Friday, June 09, 2006

Influences; Who, What, and Why

Invariably, creative people are asked about their influences. Up until a few years ago, most Cartoonists would immediately mention Charles Schulz, especially if their interests run to comic strips. In interviews, this could get dull, but of course a Cartoonist is going to talk about Cartoonists, just as a Violinist would talk about Violinists, right?

Influences actually run deeper than that, and outside of our areas of expertise. For example, our parents, of course, and our early environments. As a kid, I was always playing outdoors. I spent hours just sitting in the grass watching bugs go by, and collecting rocks, or climbing trees, all the while letting my subconscious run things. Surely those hours of pure imagination and daydreaming led to my being a creative person.

Or did it?

Perhaps I spent hours daydreaming in the back yard because I was born a creative person?

I was also an avid reader as a child. Mom always took us to the library, and I always seemed to have books around, so again, perhaps that influenced me into becoming a writer?

Then again, perhaps I devoured books because I already had a penchant for reading?

My point, I guess, is that nature and nurture both shape our being. Perhaps we are inclined to do certain things because of our particular make up, but then, in pursuing those things, reinforce that basic inclination further. So perhaps the word influence should be retermed reinforcement?

I dunno... perhaps I'm getting lost in semantics here, but I'm trying to understand who I am, and why. How much of ME is me, and how much of me was shaped by my environment? And why should it matter so much? Is it curiosity, or an argument for free will?

We all want to be special. It beats the alternative, that's for sure.

But if we are responsible for our own lives, then, along with taking credit for our successes, we have to fess up for our failings and shortcomings. Some people aren't willing to do that, and are more than happy to blame others for their problems.

That's the easy way out, though, which is rarely the best way. By knowing who we are, and facing that, we can make decisions to grow, and change, for the better.

They say to write what you know, which is easily the most misunderstood advice ever given. That doesn't mean to write a novel about a guy who looks like you, eats the same breakfast you do, and goes to a similar job. Borrrrrring!

You need to tap your inner strengths and interests. Dig deep, and release those things that you are most passionate about. Write what you care about most, and let your own passion attract your audience.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

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