I stayed up late working on a book that I hope to have done by the end of next month. It’s my first proper non-Black Gum novel in nearly nine years (the last one being Low Down Death Right Easy). I went to bed feeling pretty good about it. It’s basically David Lynch doing Reservoir Dogs with a healthy dose of Miike thrown in.
You’ll notice those are all filmmakers. Not writers. Which got me thinking about the way influence works.
A common refrain in literary circles is that books are unique things in and of themselves, and that any attempt to recreate or mimic the forms of film or even music are fraught, because that’s just not what books do. This was my opinion for a long time, as well, and I’m sure I’ve even written as much on this blog.
What to do, then, when it becomes clear that I’m not much of a reader? There’s the person I wish I was, and the person I am, and the person I am reads very few books, mostly because I’m so damn picky I put stuff down after a few pages (with some noteable exceptions).
If I want to protect my ego, I’d say something to the effect of: there’s attempting to literally mimic the structure of film, and then there’s the attempt to capture the feeling of certain films, translated into the medium of books.
I can do better than that, though. I’m going to go ahead and say that it actually doesn’t matter where your influences come from, because those have no bearing on where your talents lie. If you’re like me, you prefer to listen to music and watch films, but you’re not a good musician or a filmmaker. If you’re like me, you were born with a skillset (D&D style) that is heavy on the “writing” points and low in just about everything else. David Lynch thought of himself as a painter who makes films. Maybe I’m a filmmaker who writes books?
Film and television are the primary entertainment mediums of the day, followed by video games. To ignore this is to get caught up in a small niche that’s only read by that small niche.
I’m inspired by film. What can you do?