Influence Without Anxiety


Inspiration comes from many sources, including the books we read. As we internalize other authors’s work, they inevitably influence our writing (often without us ever knowing). The novelist Kim Triedman explores the relationship writers have to the books they read at Beyond the Margins:

As writers, we read and are enriched, see possibilities for language – syntax and rhythm, repetition and rhyme and enjambment – where before there were none. At times it is quite conscious: our attention is drawn to a specific mannerism or idiosyncrasy, and – recognizing it as such – we find ourselves playing with it in our own work. More often, though, the transfer is subterranean: our work is expanded by the simple fact of our exposures, much the way a child’s vocabulary grows simply as a function of reading. The more we hear new things and see them in context, the more they become part of our own subconscious toolkits.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →