Top 10 Influences on Ali’s Writing
The books that have influenced me are too numerous to mention, but here’s my top 10 list of people and experiences that shape my writing:
- My grandfather, who was a witty polyglot and a serious letter writer.
- Parents who encouraged me to read (and ski, swim, ride horses, master the unicycle and travel…)
- Sherry, my mother’s friend who, when 11-year-old me said I wanted to be a writer, didn’t poo-poo my dream. She gave me a gift of a How-to-Type manual, because “Writers need to know how to type.” Bless her.
- Idyllic summers at Deep Creek Lake, in western Maryland. Lake memories rich with sensory detail are a constant source of ideas.
- Journalling my way through an awkward and bewildering adolescence. Without those diaries, I don’t think I would have made it out unscathed. I am journal-reliant to this day.
- Special teachers who fanned the creative flame: My serene high school art teacher and my freshman English professor. A toast: To Sister Leonardine and Mrs Morris!
- Learning Italian as an exchange student in Italy. The deeper understanding of Latin roots enriched and expanded my vocabulary.
- Studying Mandarin Chinese and living in Beijing and Taipei. The structure of the language and Asian mindsets challenged and expanded my thinking.
- Nearly a decade of writing puppet skits for Sunday school, which taught me how to move stories along through dialogue; and sermon writing taught me to listen for the musicality of my prose.
- A lifetime of letter writing, which I still do by hand. It started with mandatory thank you notes to grandparents, then letters from summer camp and correspondence with pen pals, and still today weekly ex-pat updates to my parents (my mother doesn’t do email).