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March 01, 2009

Why I Don't Like Memes, and Why I'm About To Write One: 25 Writers Who've Influenced Me

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I've been resisting meme mania.  What is a meme, you ask?  Well that's the same thing I asked when I first saw the word a couple of years ago. 

Basically it's a list of questions on a topic that someone decides to answer.  Often someone else then sees the list and they too decide to answer them.   A meme variation is a list of answers to one question.

In my head I usually pronouce the word "meme" with two syllables, "meh-meh."  But I've discovered it's either pronounced with one syllable and rhyming with dream, "meam," or one syllable and rhyiming with "mem" as in "memory."

Either way, I've successfully avoided them. 

For example, recently there was a huge meme outbreak on Facebook where if you were tagged, you were supposed to write 25 random things about yourself and then send it to 25 people, tagging them, and asking them to do the same and so on. 

Of course I was tagged but I conveniently slipped out the meme net by simply ignoring everyone who tagged me.  I did that for two reasons: 

First, if you read my blog, you'll discover 25 random things about me.  Why should I have to write them out for you in a convenient list?

Joel Stein of the LA Times said it exactly right in his opinion piece, "25 Things Too Many:"

The idea of sending me information about yourself on a social networking site -- where your entire page is full of information about yourself -- makes no sense. It's like having a porn website with extra porn on it.


Second, it felt too much like a chain letter.  One very important random thing about me?   I always break chain letters.

Always. 

So I saw no reason to continue what for me was a glorified chain letter.

Now, having just ranted about not doing the 25 Random Things meme, what am I about to do?  Give you my list of 25 Writers Who've Influenced Me.

Why?  Two reasons:

First, I was tagged by Verite Parlant of Whose Shoes Are These Anyway and though I've never met her, I like Verite quite a lot.  She's smart, insightful and comments on my posts.  Also, considering hers was one of the tags I ignored for the 25 Random Things, I owe her one.

Second, I like the idea of writing about writers who've influenced me.  Also, I have no intention whatsoever of tagging 25 more people to do the same.  If you read this and you love the idea, go at it, but that's the most I will do to guilt you into it.

So here in no particular order, high brow and low brow, from all kinds of media, are writers who've influenced me in large ways and small:

  1. William Shakespeare
  2. Dick Francis
  3. Elizabeth George (The Mystery Writer)
  4. Gillian Roberts
  5. Maya Angelou
  6. Jon Krakauer
  7. Tami Hoag
  8. Thomas Hardy
  9. William L. Shirer
  10. Bob Herbert
  11. Daphne Du Maurier
  12. Charlotte Bronte
  13. Jane Austin
  14. Zora Neale Huston
  15. Dorothy West
  16. Edith Wharton
  17. Selena Roberts
  18. John Steinbeck
  19. Joss Whedon
  20. Jane Espenson
  21. Alex Haley
  22. Lynda La Plante
  23. Amy Sherman-Palladino
  24. Stanley Crouch
  25. Grace F. Edwards

You can check out Verite's list here.

If you happen to write your own, send me a link and if I like it, I'll link to it.

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