Those that guide us

Writers, especially science fiction and fantasy writers, rarely exist in a vacuum.

Everyone has the stories they grew up on, vivid worlds that helped them realize how much creative potential of the human mind, the ones that light the spark that grows into a flaming inferno of sleepless nights and ink-stained hands.

These guides, the writers that come before, act as inspiration and a challenge. To be considered on par with one of these greats would be a dream. To surpass them would be unbelievable.

Today Patrick Rothfuss, a relative newcomer to my shortlist of Great Authors, released a story for the Suvudu Cage Match. It is, at it’s heart, a piece of fan fiction, the kind you’d find on message boards written by fifteen year olds that think they can fix everything by inserting their own character. Except there was no Mary Sue. This was Felurian. And Death. And Susan Sto-Helit.

The story read more like a collaboration than a tribute. The voice in my head reading the write up was not Pat’s, but Neil Gaiman’s. There was a touch of Discworld, but also a touch of Good Omens. I laughed. I cried. I questioned myself as a writer for the millionth time. When confronted with this story, I have to ask who am I, to think I can write? Who am I to try and force my stories onto the world when there are writers like this out there?

Then I take a step back, tear this page of questions from my mind, and toss it on the fire, more fuel for inspiration. I’m not there yet, for sure, but if I stop now I’ll never be. The stories in my mind are fighting to get out, and even if no one reads them, at least they’ll be free.

So thank you Mr. Rothfuss, for a beautifully written tribute to Terry Pratchett. Thank you for lighting another sconce in the dark corridors of these catacombs. Most of all, thank you for another good story.

Ok, now that I’ve got all of that angst out of my system, here’s some questions for the void:

  • What writer inspires you the most?
  • When did you realize you wanted to create?
  • If you could have only three books with you on a desert island, what would they be?

What do you think?

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