I’m over at AWP writing on influence. Check out the cool graphic they’ve added. The girth of my avatar in particular! Below, an excerpt. You can read the full piece here.
To acknowledge an influence is no loss of face, surely; the elemental bones of every story have been told before. To acknowledge is not to say that we are lacking in inspiration, but, rather, to take our place among the writers who have come before and to note that we might, in turn, be of use to those who will follow. Writing is the process of stating and creating human history—the things that preoccupy us in this milieu, the homelands yearned for, the future for which we might yearn. Story is also a distraction from those mindings, a way of leaving behind concerns, hence the popularity of fantasy and science fiction, or the way that tales of far away lands are most often read by those who have never left home.