One-Minute Book Reviews

April 27, 2007

What Are the Main Influences on a Writer? Quote of the Day #21

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:37 am
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Joyce Carol Oates on a writer’s influences …

“There are two primary influences in a writer’s life: those influences that come so early in childhood, they seem to soak into the marrow of our bones and to condition our interpretation of the universe thereafter; and those that come a little later, when we are old enough to exercise some control of our environment and our response to it, and have begun to be aware not only of the emotional power but the strategies of art.”

Joyce Carol Oates in The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art (HarperPerennial, $11.95, paperback), a collection of essays that includes “First Loves: From ‘Jabberwocky’ to ‘After Apple Picking,'” which deals with two poems that had an early impact on her.

Comment by Janice Harayda:

Writers who are asked about their literary influences tend to mention the books that inspired them in adulthood. Oates gets closer to the truth in this quote. The books that have influenced many writers the most are the first books they read, because these books help to shape your view of the world while later ones may affect only such things as your literary style.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Oh! This is interesting! Yes…now that I think of it, it does make sense. The first real book that I loved was Jack London’s White Fang. I wanted to move to Alaska after that book. Still do, 30 years later! What I took from it was a sense of roughness, survival and pushing up against your limits and I guess I can see that in my writing now. (Especially the ‘roughness’)

    Now it’s old and classic Updike that influences me (with a touch of ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Hand Hand Fingers Thumb’ 🙂 )

    What about you?


    Comment by P — April 27, 2007 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for asking. The original Nancy Drew mysteries had a big impact on me for some of the reasons that “White Fang” affected you. Within the limits of her privileged life, Nancy had a great sense of adventure and curiosity about the world. She took risks that other girls didn’t. I’m almost afraid to read the newer version of the series. If anybody has tamed Nancy, I don’t want to know …

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — April 28, 2007 @ 12:34 am | Reply

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