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I Wanna Be Nora When I Grow Up

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?

4 thoughts on “I Wanna Be Nora When I Grow Up

  1. Hi

    I have to agree with you, I think most writers have a writer that they particularly idolise. Me, I want to write for both page and screen (I specialise in children’s stuff and I don’t think they’re as rigid as adults and don’t particularly care between the distinction between the written and spoken word, whether in books, on screen or on their computer). I’m not published yet (no where near unfortunately) but the writers I idolise and want to be when I ‘grow up’ are for screen Russell T Davies, the producer and head writer behind the reborn Dr.Who, now I wanted to write for Dr.Who when I was a kid and it soo excites me that thanks to him there’s still a slightest possible remotest chance that I still could (well more so than when it was off the air). Alot of Dr.Who fans can’t stand Davies and think he’s a bad writer but I think he’s fantastic, some of the speeches he writes for his characters about the human condition, make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Also loved his earlier stuff like Queer as Folk (the original British version). So if I could write action and dialogue half as good as him, I’d be happy!

    In the novel form, I idolise Susan Cooper, who wrote the Dark is Rising series, a series I loved as a child and still on rereading like. Her weaving of mythology and magic with action, are definitely skills I’d like to acquire.

  2. I have the Dark Rising series on my bookshelf in my leaning tower of To Be Read pile. LOVE LOVE LOVE Dr. Who. Was miffed when they let Christopher Eccleston go though. Loved him. I can deal with Barty Crouch Jr. though. He’s a good actor.

  3. At the minute, I think it’s Raymond Carver. I’m quite a new devotee. I haven’t read much of his though, and as my town is a literary tundra I’m waiting for a collection of his short stories. Til then I’ve been reading what I can online. I love the sparseness, the clarity, the fact that it seems like not much really happens while really *everything* happens.

  4. Ok, you know I’m all about the Nora-love. But you also know that every time I have a Shannon McKenna in my hand I say “I want to be Shannon McKenna when I grow up.” I think it’s because she’s the first author I’ve picked up in a long time who is so NEW for me. Her characters, her heroes, especially, and the way she just- tells it. And, among other things, I’d like to be as free to be fresh as all that.

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