While we all may get into writing in different and sundry ways, I think all writers ultimately find at least one author whom they idolize. We read all their books, dissect them trying to figure out what makes them work, what makes them wonderful. We look at style, theme, word choice, how they build relationships, what conflicts they choose and how those conflicts affect the characters. Many writers will perform these actions on many many books (and should, as there is something to be learned from every book we read–even if it’s how not to do something). But quite often I think we’ll find one particular author who really resonates with us, who is, not only, on our automatic buy list, but who we really want to be when we “grow up” as writers. For me, that’s Nora Roberts. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, as she is the veritable queen of romance.
Apart from her massive commercial success (which would unarguably be nice), the thing that really resonates with me about her is how she’s changed as a writer over her career. I’ll never forget the first book I read by her. Montana Sky. It was the first romance I’d ever read. I was in high school, though I forget the year. And after I plowed through it, staying up into the wee hours to finish, I had to have more. Over the years I have read almost everything she’s ever written (I think there are some of her early books I’ve missed along the way). It is fascinating to me to look at Irish Thoroughbred and compare it to, say, High Noon. You can absolutely see how she has changed and grown as a writer. And that gives me hope and faith about my own capabilities to change and grow.
I’m just starting out. I haven’t yet been published. I haven’t finished a publishable book yet (and reading between the lines, that means I’ve written some unpublishable ones), though I’m getting close. I am by turns excited and petrified of the whole shopping process. My fear won’t stop me from doing it–I want it too badly. But this book that’s going to be going out first–it’s my heart, so I suppose I should steel it for rejection, since that’s part of the process. I don’t have any delusions of grandeur that I will be as ragingly popular and successful as the Grand Dame of Romance, but I’ll continue to look up to her as a role model. And if I happen to meet her at RWA in 2010 when it comes to my neck of the woods–well I hope I don’t disgrace myself with idiotic babble. [grin]
So how about y’all? Who do you want to be when you grow up as a writer?