Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inspiring Writers

Today's Wonder of the World is...Writers Who Inspire!

Like Bailey White, my very own personal Patron Saint of Writing!
Hi Bailey! You don't mind me calling you Bailey, do you?
I feel I must, on account of the fact that we're sisters in my mind. Did you not know that? It's true!

Fear not, Bloglanders! No need to call the funny farm. I am not delusional. It's just that after yesterday's post on saints and the folks who inspire me in my faith, I started thinking about people who inspire me in other ways. Like in my writing life.

So I thought I'd share my writing heroes with you. We could have a little party. I've made some punch and appetizers and I've cleaned up the house. They're all here, waiting to meet you.
I'm a little nervous. I hope everyone gets along! Behave yourself. They may not be used to bright light.

Now before I take you around the living room, know that I am going to be honest here. I could give you a list of writers that would make my former English teachers swell with pride, but then my nose might start growing. I'm not trying to impress anyone here with famous names. (Not that my writing heroes shouldn't be famous. They should! Check out their books and you might be smitten too!) I've whittled down my list to share only my very favorite storytellers. My chief qualification for the list? That I've read their books so many times that the stories have become my friends. And yes, I do realize that sounds pitiful. Don't worry! I have life size friends too! And they're not even inflatable!

Ready to meet my favorites?

Okay! Who's first on my list? My sis, of course!

When I first heard Bailey White's stories on NPR, they mesmerized me. I sped to the bookstore that very day and read Mama Makes Up Her Mind in one long sitting. One long sitting in which my children went unbathed, everything we ate came out of cans, and the kids watched way too much Barney on the VCR.

While I was writing French By Heart, I bet I read Bailey White's books at least fifty times! One of the biggest highlights of my publishing journey was when Bailey White agreed to write a blurb for me for French by Heart. I am still ecstatic about it. She read my book! And she liked it! Whenever I get frustrated with my work, I take out her typewritten letter and just stare at it. It always cheers me up! (I even kept the envelope. Bailey, if you're reading this, I'm not a stalker. I JUST LOVE YOU!)
Please go read Mama Makes Up her Mind. And if you're not going to, just don't tell me. I don't want to know!

Now, have a glass of punch and a cheesestraw, and come over here and meet Clyde!

Clyde Edgerton, meet my friends! People, if you want to read the best book ever about the first year of a southern marriage, you must read Raney. After I read it, I had to wonder if he'd been following me around, taking notes! (Not about me, of course! But I do know those characters!) Also, check out Walking Across Egypt. It's another favorite. (It has nothing to do with Egypt, in case you're wondering.)

Have you met Tommy yet?

This is Tommy Hays, and I'm in love with his book The Pleasure Was Mine. Greenville, South Carolina chose it as our city-wide reading project, and we all loved it! (And yes. I'm speaking for the entire city. These people won't mind.) Whether or not you know anyone who has suffered with Alzheimer's, you'll want to read this love story. It's beautiful. And funny. I can't recommend it enough.

Here's the latest star at the party. Meet Sue Monk Kidd.

Oh Sue, how I'd love to be your friend. We could talk about our fascination with saints and bees. And how we both live in South Carolina and think the peach water tower in Gaffney looks like somebody's backside! Won't you come live with me a while and inspire me up close? I'd even give you my bed! (Don't worry. My husband would sleep with me on the pullout sofa.)
The Secret Life of Bees is one of my favorites. I haven't seen the movie because I'm scared that it won't be as good.
Anyone see it yet?

Here, have a sausage ball, and come meet Kaye.

This is Kaye Gibbons. Every time I read her work, I have the urge to go hide in a dark room and mourn the fact that I will never be able to write as well as she can. But I never do that because it's impossible to read in a dark room and thinking about her makes me want to read Ellen Foster all over again. Or maybe Charms for The Easy Life. Or any of the others. I've read them all. She's amazing.

And I'm sure you know that lovely lady on the sofa.

That's Harper Lee. I'd introduce you, but I'm too shy. To Kill a Mockingbird will always be my favorite book of all time.

Now, for the Queen of Dialogue. Meet Fannie Flagg.

Oh Fannie, how I adore you. What a master storyteller you are. I've bought Welcome to the World Baby Girl at least four times, because I keep dropping it in the mud or the sink or leaving it at the soccer field. So, so good.

And last, but certainly not least, my buddy Anne Lamott.

Oh Anne. How I love your honesty. Your encouragement. Your words on faith and on writing.
People, do you know Bird By Bird? It's a MUST HAVE for writers, but it'd be helpful for any creative work.

Okay, enough meet and greet. You're practically family here. Slip off your shoes and have a seat on the couch. Tell me, who are your favorites and why? I love discovering new reasons to put off the laundry!

Have a wonder-full Tuesday, y'all!
Love, Becky


lotusloq said...

Oh boy! I'm first! As long as no one gets in ahead of me! My inspirations!?!

Karen Hesse--the first book of hers that I read was Out of the Dust, and after that, I had to read everything she had written.

Sarah Dessen--she has such clarity and her books are fun. I also love that she puts in cameos of characters from previous books in the books that follow. You would never notice them if you hadn't read the previous book, but if you had, it's as if Sarah is winking at you, and you're sharing an inside joke with her. Just Listen is my favorite, but I think that's because I'm in love with Owen, one of the MC.

Jane Austen--I just can't leave her out. I've read them all over and over, the short ones, the long ones, the early ones, the one she never finished. She was brilliant and hilarious! That the stories she wrote still hold up today as they were written and as fodder for modern versions, paradies, spins, rehashes, sequels, and on and on, just goes to prove it. Her writings are still so relevant to us today, even 200 years after they were written.

I could keep going, but this is turning into my own personal posting. Let me just say, I love to read.

Have a great day Becky!

jama said...

Oh, how I love this post and the people you mentioned -- especially Anne Lamott, Kaye Gibbons, and Harper Lee. Definitely wonders!!

Suzie said...

Well BAily I read junk. Lots of junk. I read Karen Moaning and Maggie Shane and junky junk junk.

serenity said...

I'm reading Bird by Bird right now and have definitely joined that fan club. I've been reading so much memoir that I haven't discovered any great fiction in a long time. I'm definitely putting your choices on my list.

EllenP said...

I love talking about my favorite writers. It is difficult to narrow it down to a manageable number. First there are the oldies: Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, Nathaniel Hawthorne. I don't think they require any explanation - they are just plain great.

More recently, I love Sarah-Kate Lynch. Her books are wonderful and always a surprise. A couple of her books are set in France, which doesn't hurt my enjoyment of the stories. They can be a bit difficult to find - she is from New Zealand and her books get published there and in England first. "By Bread Alone" was the first one I read. "Eating with the Angels" is probably my favorite - well worth trying to find. "House of Joy" is the most recent. It was titled "House of Daughters" here. (Check on Amazon.)

Anne Tyler is a wonderful story writer - her lovely, quirky characters never disappoint.

Maeve Binchy is one of my longstanding favorites, always wonderful stories about love, loss, friendship set in Ireland.

Peter Mayle - did you ever read his novels? Hotel Pastis is so clever and funny.

And did I mention Rebecca Ramsey? I can't wait to read more from her.

Rosemary said...

Wow, great list Rebecca.
I have to say you are one of my favorites now. Since I read your book. You kept me so entertained.
Thanks for that. I'm glad we got to be blog friends.
Have a wonderful day!

Sherry said...

I join the throng voting for Rebecca Ramsey!!!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Y'all are sweet. I love you too.
I just realized that I left out several other favorites--well, lots of others, but a few that MUST by mentioned...
Lee Smith, Christopher Paul Curtis, and Elizabeth von Arnim.

TattingChic said...

I would love to have a long, leisurely brunch with my personal literary faves. Most of them would be poets. I think it would be the most fascinating thing to converse with all the lovely people who have influenced me in an artistic way through their writings.
Wouldn't you come, too!?!

adrienne said...

I remember reading somewhere when Flannery O'Connor was asked why she killed off so many characters, she replied, "If nothing happens, there's no story."
I'm not sure she'd have been someone I'd enjoy hanging out with, but she still inspires me.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Flannery O'Connor!
How could I leave her out?

And why did I choose this topic for today? I'm spending way too much time checking back to read your favorites!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Your taste is quite good--we have a lot of writers in common! I'd add Richard Russo for unflinching characters and conflicts and Jane Austin for humor, John Steinbeck for his stark & staying storytelling and Rosamunde Pilcher for sweetness and light.

Anonymous said...

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott, wins for daily inspiration in my life. All I have to read is one little quote from her, and it sets my day off right. She is so brilliant about REALITY and every day life.
Denise Mina would be my choice for the writer who creates incredible characters, with all of their warts showing! I wish I could write like that.

ABB said...

ooh new people to be inspired by! what a great post! I was inspired early on by Goethe for sheer variety of writing, style and subjects and wonderful, wonderful use of language. I love his 4 line poem about a chestnut - it's just so compact and a chestnut all of its own. And for sheer readability and storytelling, Diana Gabaldon. As a writer, she inspires just how to get words onto paper and finish the books and get on with it. But my all time favourite, for now, is still Margaret Atwood. She spoke on a panel at the London Book Fair a few years ago, and was inspiring, funny and to the point. I love the variety of writing she generates, and read and re-read her writing for examples of things I like. But there's so many to choose from!

Oh yes, and 'French by Heart' just landed on the doorstep this morning, ready to hit the Christmas stocking! You inspire here whenever I stop by.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

How fun! I've got a whole new list of authors to search out. I already love Austen and Steinbeck and Pilcher. Now I must find: Hesse, Dessen (Sarah's read her but I haven't yet,) Moaning and Shane (Suzie, junk food hits the spot sometimes!) Lynch (set in France? oh boy!) Tyler and Binchy, (and ellen, I do like Peter Mayle!) Russo, Mina, Goethe, Gabaldon, at Atwood! I hope I get some bookstore gift cards for Christmas!

Any other suggestions?

Anonymous said...

I loved getting to listen in and hear about some of your writing heroes! Now, I see there are a couple of books I need to check out...maybe winter won't be so bad afterall! I wouldn't mind being snowed in with a really good book and a crackling fire!

Anonymous said...


What a great dedication!!

CC said...

Okay, I just put "Mama makes up her mind" on my hold list at the library! I have read "Sleeping at the Starlite Motel" and remember liking it.

Susie Q said...

Wow...such a list and all favoriites of mine as well. You just can not ever feel depressed when you know that their words are there to be read anytime tou need inspiration and sheer pleasure.

This post was a magical read!


Anonymous said...

Hi! You might enjoy Ron Rash. He is a southern writer and sets many of his pieces over in Oconee county. I believe that currently he is on faculty at Western Carolina U here in western NC. I enjoyed _Saints at the River_ and _One Foot in Eden_.