I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember being alive, but I didn’t always embrace that ritualistic bleeding out of my brain and then sharing the resultant mess with others who evinced only middling interest. I didn’t always want to write, in other words, but reading the work of these five writers certainly gave me a shove at key points in my own journey:
When I was in grade school and receiving messages that people like me were less-than, Madeleine L’Engle made me want to put nerdy, socially awkward girls front and center in my stories.
Starting in sixth grade while the non-sense-making world around me became increasingly infuriating, J. R. R. Tolkien made me want to live in another world. And write about it.
In high school and college, when I was spitefully becoming myself, Haruki Murakami and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez made me want to experiment with structure and form and magic. Also to question the validity of all worlds, including the one we all accept as real.
Later, when I was less angry and ready to start living joyfully, Mary Balogh made me want to write romance.
Because, in the end and no matter who fights or what he fights or what world she’s fighting in, readers deserve the soul-satisfying win of a happy ending.