I'm reminded of all the influences in my life.
When I was a child there was a particular family that bore such a profound influence on me that it still affects me to this day. Because of the quiet example of this neighbor family, my children reap the benefits of family prayer and scripture study. Because of the unknowing influence of this mother, I am a better mother.
When I was a teenager I saw a man kiss his wife tenderly on the forehead. As I got to know him deeper, I saw other qualities of love and tenderness and patience. Because of his unknowing influence I knew where to set my standards when seeking a companion.
My life has been shaped by the compassion, love, friendship and examples of those I am blessed to rub shoulders with. Each person who's crossed my path has left me with something - and, while it hasn't all been good, the bad is minimalized by each positive interaction. Even as an adult, hard set in my ways as it may seem, I am still vulnerable to those influences.
And so, as I look at my manuscript (and my life in general) I am reminded that:
The power of influences is strong enough to alter the direction of a life.
I can't tell you how many times I've started reading a book with a wonderful plot line only to be distracted by bad language, degrading scenes, and dark, irrelevant imagery. I don't believe any of these "tools" add to a story. I don't believe in "fluff" stories either. My new writing project really could go one of two ways: I can either stick to my values and keep it clean, or I could sell-out and take it the direction that a lot of "popular" fiction has gone. I believe as an author, artist, mother, friend, I have a responsibility to be a positive influence. My goal is to tell the tough, real-to-life, entertaining stories without compromising who I am or the values that I hold fast to.
It's a tall order, but I think I can do it... Not because I'm anything or anyone special, but because of the influence of my friends!