Monday, 31 May 2021

Advice III - A Personal Insight into Writing by Howard Gibbins

    When one of our members suggested this as our next blog topic, I thought it was a great idea (and still do, by the way). It however caused me some concern as to begin with I really had no concrete idea what got me interested in writing. I've always been an avid reader, and typically go though over 50 books a year. I also review them on my blog, and on Goodreads so this provides me with an incentive to keep reading.

    In looking back and trying to figure out who and what influenced me, and put me on the path for a  writing career, To begin with it's pretty safe to say that I just find it fun to write, and make up stories. Many authors seem to have a really good idea of what inspired them, but not me. In fact I never really gave writing much thought until about 25 or so years ago. Before that I had taken a stab at a couple of short stories way back when I was in school, but that was a long time ago. I can only really remember a couple of the scenes I wrote.

    I do remember reading a story written by someone in my Junior High School that was called either "Kingpin" or "The Kingpin" which concerned a spaceship that was being investigated by an organization or something along those lines, so if you want to stretch things it is possible that this story might qualify as being partially responsible, and showing me that anyone could write. I don't remember much about the story, but if I could find a copy of it now, I think it would be fun to reread it. Unfortunately, I have lost contact with all but one person that I went to school with so it is rather unlikely this will ever happen. Other that this unknown author, I was primarily influenced by the classic science fiction writers Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert A. Heinlein. Isaac Asimov can also be included as well, however I mainly read his non-fiction books until much later.

    Today when you speak with people about writing one of the first things that seems to be brought up is the influence of television or movies. Surprising to most people is that neither of these had much influence on me. During most of my elementary school years I lived in a small town, and we only got one channel, and the reception was terrible! This was before cable TV for you younglings. I do recall seeing part of an episode of Star Trek during it's initial run, but as far as I can remember I only ever saw the one. I learned later that was entitled "Arena" and it featured the Gorn. Outside of this though I never saw any episodes of "The Twilight Zone", "The Outer Limits", "Lost in Space", or the other classic shows as we never got them. When it came to movies - forget it, they did exist when I was growing up, but I can't remember ever going to see them in a theatre. Over the years since then I have seen quite a humber of them, but I still have a long way to go. My first recollection of watching science fiction in a theatre was the Original Star Wars, which I saw many times when it was first released.

    There were of course other influences. When I began to get interested in writing I did read a number of books on how to write a novel, by various authors, and then in many cases ignored what they had to say. The one that comes to mind was by the late Sue Grafton, the author of the Alphabet Mystery series, there were others too, but I can't remember the other authors. In all cases however, they pretty much gave the same advice, which I never really followed, so I can only really credit them for being non-influences as they wanted you to have a particular place you wrote in, at a particular time of day, etc. In other words a very structured system, but this isn't something that the vast majority people can do, and definitely not my cup of tea.

    I suppose when you look at it my influences didn't come from a particular author, or set of circumstances. They come from life in general, and because I read so much when I was young this gave me what I think is a great imagination - something that every fiction author needs. Now because I read a lot of science fiction when I was young, I'm sure this has influenced me to a certain degree, but don't believe it can be considered to be the main contributor as I also read the James Bond novels, mysteries by Agatha Christie, and many others. This variety though has definitely influenced my writing as a given story may have the attributes of a mystery, crime novel, science fiction, thriller, spy novel, and who knows what else.


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