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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What’s My Age Again?

NOTE: This post is in turns an emotional outpouring as well as a personal, cutting to the core, dissection with how I feel/where I am at 30. Like my previous posts, I don’t pull punches, and I don’t want to self censor. Others have felt this way; some probably feel the same right now, but I just wanted to take a moment to capture and express my fears, hopes, worries and dreams on Write Steve Write.

With that in mind, enjoy…

It’s been 10 days since my birthday. Since this…

Honestly, I’m still accepting that I’ve finally ticked over into my 30s. No more will my age start with a 2 until I hit 200!

As I sit here pondering about all that I had dreamed of accomplishing in my 20s, all that I thought I would have done and what I thought my 30s would have looked like, I struggle at times to cope with the reality. All that I haven’t achieved. All that I thought I would be, but am not.

Kind of makes me feel like this:


And then someone comes along, shows you what it’s like to be truly cared about, and does something amazing to help you usher in a new birthday, a new decade, a whole slew of new opportunities, adventures and possibilities…

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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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A few nights ago I had a great post-BJJ catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen at the gym for a while.

The conversation related specifically to how he felt about himself in relation to his progression with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and his dream of becoming a black belt, which would eventually lead to opening his own gym, allowing him to make a living from the Gentle Art.

I quickly discovered that we were both on the same frustrating path.

Whereas everybody else in class seemed to be excelling at an exponential rate, improving with an alarming rate, we both felt that we had stalled. Somewhere along the line we had become stagnant. Our game became predictable, expected, and we became lost within the roll, rather than experiencing and learning from it.

For him, the relatively new blue belt, and myself, a single stripe blue belt for almost a full year, there was a harsh realisation.

We’d hit a plateau.

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What always surprises me from the lessons I learn on the mats is how applicable they are to my other interests and ambitions.

Not for the first time, a lesson learned through BJJ can easily relate back to my writing journey.

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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?


1) Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.

 2) Hit the jump and find out!

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Don’t Train Harder, Train Smarter.

The statement “Don’t train harder, train smarter” has a lot of poignancy to me in relation to my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, and thanks to BJJ I’ve been able to learn how to apply lessons learnt on the mat to other, relevant areas of my life.

Last night’s training session is a great example of that. I was exhausted, hungry and it showed in how I moved and reacted on the mats. It forced me to think about what I was doing, it made me attempt to roll smarter, rather than harder, relying on strength as some people are prone to do. It made me think, and in my fatigued state it allowed me an opportunity to play with bad positions that I may not have found myself in had I been more alert or more physically able. It let me keep it playful as I rolled with a few white belts (who were by no means to be taken lightly) and it brought me into some interesting danger positions, one of which I tried to slowly figure a way out of that was ultimately unsuccessful, leading to me tapping. Which doesn’t matter, as it shouldn’t. Firstly the guy who got me is a great training partner who is truly dedicated to BJJ; he’s there every day, mostly having trained in the morning and then coming back to the night time class. His schedule, and youth, allow him to dedicate the time most others wish they could, and it shows in his progress as he evolves in leaps and bounds.

There’s no shame in tapping, especially if it’s in a position you recognise as dangerous, and then attempt to play with. It could have gone great and I would have found a unique escape, or it could have gone the other way, where my relaxed, controlled, attempts to figure a way out didn’t bear any fruit.

But how does this relate to writing, exactly? Let me explain my madness.

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