Recently, my wonderful husband and I watched all three Anne of Green Gables movies start to finish. That’s right. Matt not only sat through them, but he’s the one that suggested we watch them in the first place! On VHS, no less.
I hadn’t watched them in several years, so watching each of them again reminded me of my early teens when I watched them endlessly, amused at Anne’s often silly yet sincere attempts to become a writer.
Funny as it is to reflect on now, I think it was watching those movies that encouraged me to think about becoming a writer. There are so many influences that encouraged me when I was young, but there was something about Anne’s character and her desperate yearning to be a successful writer that mirrored my own imagination and passion for reading and writing.
If I think about it, there were dozens of stories, films and books that influenced me when I was young, that “raised” me as a writer, in a sense. Belle of Beauty and the Beast loved to read, Judy Blume’s Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is about a girl with a wild imagination and a flair for story-telling, Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy encouraged me to journal (although I didn’t journal about spying on neighbors and classmates), and there were many, many others. Yes, most of them female.
Further example: last night Matt’s bandmates came over to practice new songs. Afterward, Matt’s longtime friend and bandmate, Thad, pulled his old video cam-corder and played “old-skool” video footage from their old band. Some of the footage dated back 10 years, to their days of pipe-pants, spikey hair, pop/punk tunes and the occasional “rude-boy” outfit. It was hilarious to see and hear some of their influences, to listen to them laugh about their old haunts, friends, clothes, and how much they tried to be like this or that musician.
Influences can come from anywhere – books, film, music, images, fashion, and more. From stage of life to stage of life – from childhood, adolescence, young adulthood to adulthood – creative influences shape our imaginations as fixed icons that speak to us and later help us remember who we were and what we were like and what we loved when we were young.
After mulling over this concept through the past several days, I came across this quote:
“At all ages, if [fantasy and myth] is used well by the author and meets the right reader, it has the same power: to generalize while remaining concrete, to present in palpable form not concepts or even experiences but whole classes of experience, and to throw off irrelevancies. But at its best it can do more; it can give us experiences we have never had and thus, instead of ‘commenting on life,’ can add to it.” — C.S. Lewis
This speaks more to writing and fiction than music or fashion, but even so, when we think about how art influences us, when we recall those images, words, or sounds that inspired us most, we regard them as a part of what made us who we are now. They speak of life in terms that we understand, and therefore add to it.
So my question for you is : Who were your influences growing up?
Do you have boxes of tattered and love-worn books from your youth? Old movies you watch on occasion? Albums or songs that throw you back in a time machine of places, feelings, friends, sights and smells? Stacks of magazines with corners folded to favorite looks that you still try to emulate or wish you could wear?