A few years ago I was discussing the appeal of emo music with someone. I had been thinking about the quality of isolation so many emo/neo-punk lyricists draw on to write their songs and how that feeling of being "the only one who feels this way" is common to just about everyone. I had also been thinking about the irony of that juxtaposition.
Well, I didn't think "That's ironic." I thought "How fucking stupid are we?" Everyone feeling like they're the only person who ever had a lousy day/week/year/decade. Each of us feeling like we're the only one who ever struggles to make ends meet or love the people who love us or pursue the things we're good at (but maybe don't make any money doing). And in reality the things that hurt us or make us happy or give us hope are all the same.
(Not identical. It's not like each of you will get the same thrill from reading Gormenghast as I do. But we all have something that makes us ache and brings us to tears and laughter.)
Yesterday while writing up my Alternative Booker Award post, I threw out the comment that it's no surprise I write the way I do when you see the books I love. And I immediately thought "Duh. Like every writer doesn't say that." I felt stupid. And more than a little like a hack. Of course, the things I read will influence how and what I write. That's the most obvious and uninsightful observation I could make about myself.
In fact, I was so embarrassed by even thinking that, I almost deleted that line.
But I didn't. Because the more I thought about it, the more it wasn't a stupid thing. An obvious thing, yes. But a truthful one all the same. Because as writers, especially the ones who are narcissistic enough to talk about their writing process, we do say the same things. Not identical things. (I mean, aside from "Butt in Chair" and "You have permission to write a steaming turd of a first draft" and all the other writerly mantras that my generation of writers lives and breathes.)
We all say the same things about loving our craft. About finding inspiration. About working through the hard things. About celebrating the small things. About making time for what's important and letting go of what is not.
And those things that we say resonate. Not because we're so smart or even so very good with words. (Though, you know, we kind of hope to be since we're trying to do this writing thing professionally.) And not even because we are writers talking to fellow writers.
The things we say resonate because we are humans talking to other humans. About finding inspiration. About working through the hard things. About celebrating the small things. About making time for what's important and letting go of what is not.
So when I say something obvious about knowing my writing motives by knowing my influences, it's okay. Because you understand. And you would say the same thing.