Growing up I found inspiration in the books I read. I loved anything that could pull me out of reality and into a new, exciting world. I especially loved the book if it made me believe that magic, elves, and even secret castles could exist in this world. This stories stuck with me throughout childhood and into adulthood. They left me with a sense of wonder and curiosity that drove me to continue writing and researching and believing in the unbelievable. They’ve influenced almost everything I’ve written and chosen to read since. I owe a lot to the stories I read as a kid and to my parents for allowing me to read some stories that were deemed controversial for children at the time (cough, Harry Potter, cough).
I can remember picking up Lord of the Rings for the first time and trying as hard as I could to understand it, at about nine. I was still interested in other things, though, and I think this kept me distracted and unable to comprehend the story. I tried again at eleven and something must have just clicked because suddenly, it made all the sense in the world. I devoured these books. Tolkien’s stories became my life. I tried to teach myself Elvish, I could write Dwarfish, and I could recite poems and songs from the Halflings culture. My very best friend and I went by Merry and Pippin. I watched the movies every single weekend until I was burned out. I was deeply obsessed with this story, as many others are to this day. At 22, I finally got my first (and only, for now) tattoo of the one ring on my shoulder.
Now, at 26 I realize how important it is to revisit these old favorites when your think tank is running a little low. I have both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings by my bedside, allowing me to read and draw that old inspiration I ran on back then. It’s one thing to want to pull all imagination and inspiration from yourself, and I find that quite admirable, but I love when writers are able to create an homage to those that have inspired them over the years, those considered masters or have worked and studied for years to create masterpieces. I don’t really care that Lord of the Rings is extremely “mainstream” and I feel the same way about Harry Potter and how wild the fandom can get, I adore both stories and I feel they’re excellent sources of inspiration for myself. Everyone has stories like these.
Discussing those stories that you love, the ones that really get your fire roaring inside is a good way to find new stories that do the same. Talking about those books you loved as a kid can open new doors for writers and readers. I feel no shame in admitting I read a lot of YA literature now that I’m out of college and don’t have to read stuffy old white man bullshit anymore. I think the stories written for kids can be some of the most important, as they incite and foster that sense of self as a person and a writer for years to come.
So, break out your copies of Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Mortal Instruments, Glass, or any other work you read while in high school or middle school. There’s a reason they captivated you and inspired you. Sometimes it’s good to go back and find those reasons and maybe borrow them for yourself. Let that writer know how much their hard work means to you.
Or, just simply enjoy a story that brought you joy then, and still does now.