Invisible Influence

A few weeks ago, Kevin Smith almost died from a “massive heart attack” due to a blockage of his LAD artery – also known as the Widow-Maker.

Thankfully, he survived the encounter, even taking the time out from, y’know, recovering from said heart attack in order to tweet about it from his near-miss deathbed. Total Kev Smith move.

 

 

If he hadn’t pulled through, this would have marked the first of my personal heroes to have died.

This person who I have never met, but have been a fan of since I was teenager, has helped to shape me in countless ways, just as he has for thousands and thousands of others.

From his clever wordplay and irreverent pop-cultural observations to his commentary on everything through nothing helped to mould the way I view the world, myself, and how I wanted to be. How I wanted to write.

We are all an amalgamation of our experiences and influences. Kevin Smith just happens to be one of mine.

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Wonder For Years

Turns out the pursuit to live a creative life is a constant struggle between managing fantastical expectation vs reality and the need to get some damn food in your stomach on a daily basis.

It’s also one that should see you take influence from everything you can draw from.

I’ve written before about the importance of being able to take that influence, that inspiration, from a number of different outlets. Limiting yourself to only one, in a world so rich and abundant with great stories, told in wonderfully engaging and, occasionally, dynamic ways is akin to blind stupidity. A tunnel-visioned idea that if you’re not writing, well, you should be reading, right?

There’s truth to that, make no mistake, but in a world where some of the best stories in the past decade have been told through not only novels but cinema, comic books, and video games, then actively depriving yourself of these experiences simply because of the form they are delivered in just highlights a pretentious refusal to accept their potential.

And this brings me, of all things, to one of my favourite bands, The Wonder Years.

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Stop Signs & Deadlines.

Welcome to 2017.

So, here’s a fun factoid: at this point in time I am beholden to no-one and, honestly, that’s how its been for the longest while. It’s also the reason why I’ve been so infrequent with my blog posts, writing, and overall progress. The only thing I’ve managed to really dedicate myself to is my geek critique podcast, ‘Sweet Story, Bro.’

The cruel irony is this: the podcast I created to help me embrace stories on a deeper level – to help me become a better writer – has, for the longest part of 2016, overtaken any sort of actual writing.

The podcast still serves its ultimate purpose. I have definitely grown self aware as a reader since its inception, and I have undoubtely learned from how these writers have chosen to tell their stories. I love engaging with narratives beyond ‘I liked it’/’It was good’ and the opportunity its given me to engage with like minded geeks – shoutout to #PodernFamily on Twitter! – and, perhaps most importantly, it’s fun!

Granted, as much growth as the show has seen since its debut (and format tweakage/evolution) last year on January 4th, I’m still naturally pushing for further growth. For more people to treat their ears to its aural sensations, if you will. It would be a dream if ‘Sweet Story, Bro’ could continue to evolve, to create a dialogue amongst writers and fans, perhaps even rake in a little cash to help with server and equipment costs via Donations and fans using the Amazon links for their online purchases (what a validating feeling it was to see people had been doing exactly this over Christmas!)

The podcast has, undoubtedly, been my greatest success this year. And as stoked as that makes me, it’s a double edged blade as its stolen from me the focus and drive I should have been investing into Temporary.

You know, the book I’ve been working on. One of the primary reasons this blog exists.

And so, like most, in the interest of using this time of year for some key self reflection and introspective dissection, its become clear to me that my habitual self sabotage, coupled with enviable levels of procrastination (emphasis on the pro), wrapped up with a pretty ribbon crafted out of a lack of personal accountability has led me to seeing the end of 2016, like most people, as a bit of a disappointing damp squib.

So, what the fuck do I intend to do about it?

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Voi¢£.

If you ever get the chance to go and watch writer/director/podcast magnate Kevin Smith speak, then, quite simply, do it.

I’ve written about Smith and his style of public speaking before on this blog, having highlighted a particularly meaningful monologue he made regarding encouraging artists and the creatively inclined, which, in a shameless plug, you can check out here.

But despite my familiarity with Kevin Smith, his wondrous ability to take a single question from an audience that fills an hour and a half, and his overall opinions on the creative landscape, I still found myself excited at being able to see him deliver his mantras live.

When the e-mail from the Prince Charles Cinema appeared as a Notification in the top right of my screen, it took me about 10 seconds of deliberation before I had already punched in my card details. Hell, I was one step away from simply throwing money at my monitor to secure the tickets.

The man just has a way of cutting to the core in what he says, in such a genuinely moving and passionate way that you can’t help but be inspired by the end of it.

Even if “the end of it” is 20 minutes over the scheduled end time, causing a hectic, full on butt clenched, power walk back to Charing Cross for the last train home.

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Podcast Solo

As I’ve been waiting on beta reader feedback on Temporary, and keeping myself busy rewriting a preliminary redraft of a short story I’ve been working on, now titled Translucent (which is a Temporary Parallel Event), I’ve also found myself delving back into the wonderful world that is podcasting.

Not participating in the way I once did with the podcasts I used to host, whether it was the eclectically random, conversational (and controversial) news stylings of The Totally Randumb Podcast, or the long, long ago pro wrestling podcast I used to love doing, the Blind Tag! Podcast, but rather looking for new and interesting things to listen to.

The Totally Randumb Podcast holds up, thanks to its (relatively) timeless content: each week, Nick and I would find a couple of totally random, weird, odd, or raunchy stories and discuss them – only finding out what the other had dug up whilst we were at the microphones. It usually led to a lot of interesting, warped conversations, whilst being informative in a “what weird shit is happening in the world today?” sort of way.

Most recently however I’ve been a more passive engager. Honestly? I’m a huge fan of podcasts as a medium; for discussion, for engagement, and for engaging in something you are truly passionate about in the hope to find an audience that cares just as much about the thing you care about (phew!) – it’s always been something that’s been mega appealing to me.

So, what has prompted me to delve into my past excursions with the world of podcasting; and, more importantly, how does any of this tie into my writing?

Answers:

1) Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.

 2) Hit the jump and find out!

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Warner Bros. Studio Tour, OR: Harry Potter World, UK Edition (11/12/14)

A few weeks ago Thea and I ventured an hour out from where we live in order to enter the magical land of Harry Potter, just off the M25 near Watford, and all courtesy of a GroupOn deal we purchased months prior.

We had just finished making our way through the entire Harry Potter series of movies on Blu-Ray a few months prior and had always intended to cap the cinematic journey with a trip to the Harry Potter tour in order to further immerse ourselves within the intricate world of Harry Potter’s kid-friendly, adult baiting, whimsical universe.

I’m a Harry Potter fan, for sure. I’ve read the books multiple times; I’ve watched the entire series of movies, anticipating each new one as they opened over the years, but I wouldn’t call myself a Pothead. Is that what hardcore Potter fans call themselves? Potheads? My girlfriend however sides more with the visual realm that Warner Bros. helped to create for the better part of ten years, and so there was plenty of anticipation between us for the night we had ahead of us, the promise of food, ‘special guests’ (who they never officially named or announced, as far as I know) and Butterbeer coming ever closer with each passing mile.

The trip was relatively uneventful, which is exactly how I prefer to have my car rides. I hate driving, especially for long periods of time, and so the best outcome of any long journey is an uneventful trip. Considering that the opposite would be a horrendously EVENTFUL experience, I’ll take an easy ride with Chris Jericho’s Podcast (interviewing Dean Ambrose) playing any day. And so, on a cold Thursday night in December, we journeyed to a place where they created a cinematic legacy, all from a book based on a boy wizard.

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Commit to Create.

It’s not the first time that I have shared something created by the amazing Zen Pencils, but this one I found to be incredibly poignant.

In my day to day life, I’ve often experienced people rebuffing any sort of creative thought, especially if it’s an idea that goes against the grain. Why buck the system when you can just maintain a status quo, after all? Why? Because it could lead to something better than you ever imagined, something you could never imagine had you never tried. Or, as Kevin Smith so succinctly puts it: Why not?

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