Do you ever do something entirely subconsciously that outright surprises you?
I recently finished a novella length story and promptly handed it to my mother (my front-line editor ;).
After waiting for a few days, I got up the courage to ask her what she thought of the story so far. Her reply completely surprised me.
“I really like it,” she said. “But it’s got such a 40’s flair to it. I feel like I’m walking alongside Marlowe.”
I understood the reference immediately. We practically grew up on 1940’s movies. It’s remarkable that I can see anything more than black and white. But I couldn’t understand why she would say that about the story. It had nothing to do with a 40’s detective flick.
That afternoon I picked the story back up and started to review it. About four chapters I looked up at my mom and said, “You’re right.”
The story and characters might have had nothing to do with hardboiled PIs smart talking police and suspects, and it quite definitively takes place in modern times, but there’s just something about the story that has that “grit and polish” flair. I can’t really explain it, except to say there is something about the atmosphere, the sense, the street level landscape, and the high-rise views, that clearly says, “Raymond Chandler was here.”
And I didn’t even try! In fact, I’ve never tried to write in that style.
Does that ever happen to you? Whether in writing or some other area of life, does a long loved influence suddenly pop up when you least expect it?
Note: Just in case there are people out there who didn’t grow up on the classic movie channels, I’m referring to the Phillip Marlowe detective series, originally penned by Raymond Chandler. If you give me the chance to watch The Big Sleep I’m probably going to take it. ;)