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writing history

the main influence on my writing over the past five years has been Ralph Ellison. His fiction hasn't had much of an effect on my writing style as I am a lousy fiction writer; his non-fiction essays, however, have influenced my writing in several ways.

For example, one technique I use often in my writing is that of the parenthetical statement. often times the parenthetical statement will consist of a clever turn of phrase or with some sort of relevant free-association riffing on the given subject.

Being a History major, I also make references a lot in my writing, whether it be to Shakespeare, or hard-bop jazz of the 1950s, or to Lyndon Johnson, or whatever else may work. Ellison did the same in his writing because, though he wasn't a history major, he was concerned with historical events, figures, et cetera and their influence on his craft.

Above all, Ellison was concerned with emphasizing the musicality of language in his writing; I try to do the same.

[Now, I am not doing the aforementioned to the best of my abilities in this blog entry, seeing as I am sitting at the front desk of the writing center and have to split attention between work and homework.]

At the same time, the largest influence on my writing, period, has been my father. He's an English and Theatre teacher and as such has served as a bit of the literary rod with which the child was spoiled while I was growing up. I remember one time in 3rd grade I was having a hard time with writing a five page report for school. [Five pages? What vile cruelty!] For almost a half-hour, he pummeled me with the question, "Why are you writing this?" To which I would reply, "Because I have to!" Finally, on the brink of tears, I realized what he was asking: why was my report important? What was I trying to convey with the report? And then it all made sense. That Socratic query is what I always ask of myself and others when writing [though I ask in many different ways, not just repeating the same vague question].