Sometimes I hate it when people ask me who my favorite authors are. Not because I don’t have any (fact is I have too many favorites) but simply for the reason that people automatically assume I aspire to become them.
I’m a classic kind of person and I have an unapologetic love for J. R. R. Tolkien’s work. But even though I write a lot of stories in that genre my style isn’t very similar to his at all.
That being said, whether or not you’re a fan, Tolkien is still a prime example of a writer who fulfilled his purposes.
Last week (see; Purpose of a Writer Part 1) I wrote one of the purposes of a writer was to create something that would last- something that people would remember. Tolkien did that with both The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. But he did something else. Something more.
He inspired. He inspired a lot of people- myself included. He opened a door that exposed a world of adventures for writers to explore. A concept for creators to build on. Let’s be honest; how many great modern stories wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for him?
Yet I don’t aspire to be the next J. R. R. Tolkien. Or the next J. K. Rowling or George R. R. Martin or anyone else. I have my own style, my own characters, and my own story to tell. I aspire to be myself, to stay true to myself, and to remain organically me. But that’s not to say these authors didn’t help me. The opposite really. These people inspired me in so many ways; they inspired me to imagine, to dream, and to write.
They inspired me to be a better me.
The second purpose of a writer is to inspire and this may be one of the most important things you’ll ever do as an author. Your story should leave a mark somewhere. The reader should feel some sort of connection and that connection should spark a version of inspiration. Maybe it will inspire them to do something as simple as starting a new hobby or something as big as starting a new career. You never know.
Inspiration is like a flame and it catches. We use fire for many things, both for the light and the warmth it yields. But it needs fuel. As a writer my job is to provide that using what creativity lies inside of me, pouring it out on to a page. I create the spark, the reader then must decide what to do with it.
Maybe one day I’ll be the inspiration someone needed. Perhaps a verse they read will help them look at the world differently. A lonely heart willing to take a chance on love again or a trepidatious soul ready to take a stand for what is right. If just one individual finds inspiration then I’ve done my job. For if one person catches the flame, they spread it to those around them and those spread to those around them and thus the fire grows ever stronger. Ever warmer. Ever brighter.
And it all began with just one single spark.
Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.