Are there any literary or artistic works that almost feel like they are a part of you?
I don’t know where this quote originally came from; I jotted it down in some class notes from my college days:
In your own writing, make allusions to works or artists that feel like they are a part of you. Works are more powerful when rich in your personal culture.
I remember the professor telling us we could “own” other people’s works. Our emotional response to them would make for a unique voice in our creative writing.
Who are some artists or authors—or what are some works—that are a part of your personal culture? And are they classical enough to write about or will today’s teens totally miss the point?
Originally, I had characters in my first novel alluding to The Scarlet Letter and Emily Dickinson poems. In fact, I built the whole first chapter around a poem. Then I learned that my main character hates reading and cut all literary allusions.
In a book I’m working on now, I referred to Indian legends about my hometown. Then I changed the setting, and those parts got axed too. I guess I have yet to make my works “rich” with my “personal culture.”
However, maybe personal culture extends beyond the humanities. Why did I feel driven to write about a character who spent time in a Japanese internment camp when I’m a sheltered, white, Utah girl? Because my great-grandparents had a Japanese internment camp barrack brought to their farm after the war, stuffed to this day with old, rusty junk. That building and what it stands for haunts me even now. I hope the image of that barrack haunts the pages of my novel, too, even though I have no Japanese heritage.
What allusions have popped up in your writing that have added depth?