Aspirations, Influences, and Imitations

 

When I was younger I was a big fan of Terry Pratchett, I still am, I just was when I was younger too. When I was around 13 to 15 Terry Pratchett was the only author I wanted to read and I made it through every book he had released at that point. To this day Discworld books will forever be some of my favourites and I still point to Mr Pratchett as my main inspiration for becoming a writer. When he sadly passed away in 2015 it really hit home to me just how important he had been in my life, how he had helped me define my future aspirations; goals that I would have for over 10 years, and never forsee myself losing. Terry convinced me that it was possible to create these incredibly complex and fully functioning worlds. Places that behaved like a Fantasy made real. He convinced be you could make a story funny, adventurous, and carry a real moral message or social statement too.

So, in between reading Pratchett I did the impossible… I set about writing my own book. I still vaguely remember the premise of the book. The Hero of the story was fated to save the world through some sort of self sacrifice in some sort of big battle, but somehow he managed to find himself flung forward in time and ending up in the world where he was meant to have died and which had been saved on the back of this. What can I say? I loved, and still do love, the ideas of time travel and the ideas of ‘fate’ and how we can mess with it. In this Never-Titled Narrative, there was also side story consisted of the Pantheon of this world (Including, but not limited to, Father Time, Mistress Fate, and Death), trying to work out what had gone wrong, what had screwed up the timeline, and why he hadn’t ‘Died’ when he should have. He also had a pet pig, though the relevance of that is long since lost on me. (Perhaps it was a Black Cauldron reference?)

Looking back on it, I had a couple of OK ideas, especially for that age, and I could certainly see myself using a similar themes in future stories. I still write about Fate, for instance, and I love deconstructing its implications in stories. In hindsight however, and I even remember realising this at the time, my writing style was unmistakably Pratchett-esque. I mean, the personification of ‘Gods’ and ‘Death’ – especially Death– reeks of Discworld, and I remember writing with the aim of being funny, and with the aim of delivering the same comedic beats as Pratchett’s work. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t saying my writing in anyway paralleled the sheer brilliance of Sir Terrys work, but I found myself unable to write in any style other than this heavily-Pratchett-influenced style. I even took to writing forums about it, asking if anyone else had this and whether I’d ever shake it.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see that this was simply because of the world I’d immersed myself in. If I spent a few years only reading Terry Pratchett, I wasn’t expanding my influences, and my mind was learning that ‘this is how you write’, because it saw not contrary examples.

As I got older, I stopped writing in this style, as I got older still I stopped writing completely. Eventually when I returned to writing properly, despite dabbling over the years, I found my own voice; the voice you’re reading now in my blogs. That said, I’ve always found myself being highly emphatic to what I’m reading/watching/playing at the time. I’ve got a Noir short story I wrote coming off the back of watching/being obsessed with Brick. My friend even adapted/condensed it and turned it into a Student Film… I’ve link it below.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/4919271″>Imaginoir</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user1655258″>John Wood</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

More recent examples are of me writing grittier, darker fantasy due to a recent obsession with Mark Lawrence, or trying to write intricate and overly complex plots from watching Kirsty play through the absolutely amazing, but highly convoluted Kingdom Hearts series for the first time… It seems that if I’m into something, whatever it is, it has a powerful impact on my writing. I may not copy the style of writers as much anymore, but I’m certainly influenced by the themes of things I’m writing about. Heck, my work in progress at the moment (wow, I haven’t mentioned that in a long, long time) has influences from everything including my original love of Terry Pratchett, my more recent love of Mark Lawrence, an old love of Final Fantasy, and even a big dollop of Bioshock: Infinite thrown in (amazing game, that).

A writer will, I think, always be influenced by the things that inspire them, be it other works or other people. I think avoiding it is hard, just as I think being ‘objective’ in a Review is hard. We are always products of our influences and we can no more avoid that then we an avoid the impact of our life experiences on our mindsets. I raise the issue though, because sometimes it can feel more a hindrance than anything.

I find myself unable to work on my WiP because I’m too busy being inspired by Sci-Fi, which it isn’t. I find myself wanting to write the colourful fantasy story I’ve previously planned, but, whilst my WiP may be fantasy, it certainly isn’t ‘colourful’ as I originally favored a ‘grittier‘ tone. Most of all, it makes me question my own style/voice if I’m so easily influenced. How do I know I am writing my own work if I am currently riding a wave of the recent author that’s hooked me…. And I suppose I don’t. At the end of the day, even the best authors switch it up from time to time, they can write pieces that are very much products of their time. It’s easier to see this in Cinema, perhaps, where stylistic changes are easily more apparent due to the visuals used. Times change, people change, Messages change, styles change.

At the moment, I can only write what I want to write as I currently am and influenced by what I’m influenced by. I can’t envision what my writing will be like in future, whether it will feel consistent, or whether it’ll be ever changing. For all I know, the piece I’m (trying) to work on now will be tonally dissimilar from the rest of my future Bibliography… or it might be consistently inconsistent, I may never settle down. If that’s me, then so be it, but I do think I’m finding my voice now, I do think my writing style has settled… I’ve grown up from being a poor ‘imitation’ and started settling into merely being ‘influenced’, for better or worse, by my other passions.

Over to you. If you’re a writer (or any kind of Artist really!), do ever find yourself drawing too heavily on your inspirations? Ever find yourself wanting to jump to different styles because of a recent passion? Let me know in the comments below!

Can you hear an Echo?

Can you hear an echo or is it just me?

When Brexit was on the horizon and the voting was due to take place, my Facebook/Twitter was rife with those saying “Remain!”. We know how that went. When the recent presidential candidacy was underway, the same Facebook/Twitter just ripped the idea of President Trump to shreds. We know how that went, too. Funnily enough, I was never surprised by these outcomes, having always feared the worst, and I never believed the chanting of my social media, despite how often I was in complete agreement with most of the points they make. I knew we weren’t in the majority. You can even read my response to Brexit here: Leaving the EU: My Thoughts.

The thing is, the way we construct our Social Media groups, the friends we interact with most, the people we choose to follow on twitter, the blogs we enjoy reading on here… they’re all Echo Chambers. As human beings we seek out those of a similar opinion, we don’t like the cognitive dissonance brought about by contrary facts and opinions. We’re far more likely to support claims that agree with our already held beliefs, and we’re far more likely to dismiss those that don’t. We see it from anything, from something as big and world changing as Brexit and Trump, to something as small as our favourite books and TV Shows. Many people are unwilling to even acknowledge criticism, let alone accept it, or worse – in their minds – be turned by it.

When I’m on my Facebook, scrolling down aimlessly as I do, wasting those precious, constantly mounting minutes of my life which, en mass, could be used for something more productive, I notice one thing. I notice how eager people are to share these acts of altruism, how eager they are to call out the government, how eager they are to support good causes. Of course, I see a lot of waffle too, a lot of ‘fake news’, celebrity gossip, or sharing of these ‘Tasty’ recipes everyone drools over but nobody ever actually tries. This is excusable though, we all get caught up in waffle, but I see so much good too. I have friends who are continually trying to better the world, who campaign or share articles of positive human development. What I don’t see, at all, is anything racist, homophobic, or even as simple as Tory (not holding those three in the same category – by the way). Whether these friends of mine just keep quiet, or whether they’re voices are drowned out by Facebook algorithms, or whether they’re not existent; it’s weird to hear a voice in such cohesion, only to realise it’s not a correct reflection of the world at large.

I do have a Trump supporter though. On Facebook, a long time ago, I was added by an American guy simply. We’ve never spoken, and it was a request I simply added because this was back when you added most people… Before so many fake accounts appeared, or spam messages were prevalent. Through this one connection I have a window into someone else entirely. He posts, with great frequency, his views on all things American; sports, guns, terrorism, Trump. Nearly every post he makes is a stark contrast to my own worldview, he believes Trump will save America, he believes Guns are necessary and nobody should be without one, he believes there are only two genders in the world. As one voice in my crowded Social Media, he looks alone, almost laughable; I accompany each sighting of him with a smug, self-important eyeroll. Then I read his comments on his posts, overcome with a strange curiosity, and I realise that he’s not alone. I realise that his friends and family all agree and support him. I find the voices in support of his posts outweigh those in opposition, if there is any. He has an Echo Chamber of his own.

This thought process was brought about by the Local Elections hosted here in the UK last week. Local Elections aren’t completely indicative of the National climate, in fact there was so little buzz about these I was worried nobody was turning up to it at all. However, it still surprises me how the things that get repeated over and over, throughout all my social media accounts, still fail to come true. It surprises me to realise my opinion isn’t the majority, despite how many people I meet that I agree with. It surprises me that the Conservatives won in areas I thought they’d be least likely to succeed. Is my opinion right? Not necessarily. It might be! I’d like it to be! But it certainly stands a chance that I’m wrong, or ill informed, or simply parroting what is expected of me within my peers. The thing is, the Echo Chamber convince us we’re correct, that there’s support for our ideas and beliefs. It’s great, in a way, for reinforcement and support, but it’s not good for challenge, for growth, and for unbiased information.  It’s also not a good predictor of the world at large.

That reminds me of a TED talk I watched the other day, by Simon Anholt who founded his website: Good Country – Global Vote. It’s a Website where anyone in the world can ‘Vote’ in elections in other countries, after being presented a, self-proclaimed, objective write up of the candidates. The votes are, obviously, not counted in the elections, but they are a real analyse of peoples opinions (albeit, with a specific sample of ‘people willing to click a website about voting’ – something to be wary of). I checked out both Brexit and Trump, and I personally agree with the results of this ‘Global Vote’ for both these elections, but neither of them are good predictions for the true outcome. In the video Anholt acknowledges that their website always gets it wrong… Which begs the question, is the internet, and those more likely to utilise it to ‘vote’ or even learn about world affairs, an Echo Chamber of its own?

This post isn’t meant to be offensive, so my apologies if any is taken. It is meant simply as a device to make you think… When you hear the voices of your social media talking in unison, are they the majority? And, more importantly, are they right? Or is it worth stepping beyond that and finding out what the other voices are saying? Is it worth breaking out of the Echo Chamber? Let me know in the comments below!

Sending a Message

Messages are in everything and I think we always create with a message. Maybe sometimes you’re just drawing for the sake of drawing, or writing for the sake of writing. Maybe your end goal is just to produce an enjoyable piece of art, but you’re often going to find there’s a message in there whether you like it or not; there’s always something to take away.

In a previous post, Learning Themes from the Wonders of Disney, I discussed Disney, and how they manage to weave a message into an enjoyable narrative. They can do it subtly, to such an extent you may not really realise it’s there, but is that always the best way?

Today I’m launching another blog, Play Positive, in which I’m going to discuss video games. If you don’t know, I used to be a Games Journalist and I kind of miss it, so I’ve set up a platform specifically to talk about Video Games (and to keep it separate from my more general content here on the Clouds). To celebrate my first article, 5 THINGS, I wanted to discuss messages and how they’re delivered throughout our artwork. Strangely enough, I’m going to be drawing on my review of Power Rangers… Yeh, I’m reviewing films now too!

(The messages I’m going to be dealing with are ones of Equality and Diversity, but I strongly feel you can apply these ‘messages’ to be ones of anything, from the trivial to the extreme)

From those unversed with video games, Horizon: Zero Dawn is a game about tribes in the Post-Apocalypse. It’s a game about fighting Robot Dinosaurs with a bow and arrow, it’s a game about exploring the wilderness and getting lost in a world where humanity is a child once again… It’s also a game with a subtle message of equality and diversity. Whether this message is intentional or not, the game is lead by a strong female character, and supported by people of many different races, genders, and personalities. Nothing here is forced. As a Cis White Middle Class Male (throw as many adjectives you can think of to make me as ‘average’ as a government consensus would like me – and they’ll stick) there’s no end of role models or characters that are designed to ‘speak to me’. As such a player, this message of diversity and equality is so subtle it could be lost on me. For others out there, though, I can imagine it is particularly good to see such examples of strong female characters, of Black or Asian characters… This message, whilst not central to the game in anyway, whilst not heavily insisted upon at any point, is important.  

Then I compare it to Power Rangers. Strangely it’s the same theme, to an extent. The reboot of Power Rangers that hit cinemas this March features an eclectic main cast of different races, genders, sexualities and personality types. However, here it’s done far less subtly; characters have moments where they explain their autism, or explain their sexuality and, it can come across as trying too hard… but it’s still important.

On the surface, as a piece of art, I prefer the subtler weaving of Horizon: Zero Dawn. I prefer that the message is there, under the surface, resonating at the subconscious level or for those that want to pick up on it. I find by making it less of a taboo, just treating the subject as something completely normal that needs no reference at all, is the best way to do things. What better way to show that something is completely and utterly normal and acceptable than by not drawing attention to it at all? In that vein, then, Power Rangers, can come across as jarring and expositional when characters reveal they’re autistic, or they’re not heterosexual.

An important factor, though, is audience. Power Rangers is aimed at Kids and Teenagers, I’m not exactly it’s ideal audience. What can come across as a poorly blended message to me, is perhaps (and I’m hypothesising here) more important to younger audience. Having role models that identify within different groups promotes that equality and that inclusion; it allows the youngsters out there to feel unashamed of who they are and strive for the inclusion they deserve. I know I’d gladly let my children watch it, because it provides representation and the message is correct no matter how its handled.

At the end of the day, regardless of which you prefer, the fact is these messages are there and that’s the most important thing. I’d sooner have a heavy handed message of equality, than one that doesn’t promote it at all (or worse – promotes the opposite). I’d sooner see lead characters who are Black, Asian, Gay, Bisexual, Female, Trans, Autistic, or any combination of the above, and see it handled heavy handily and unsubtly than continue to see the usual suspect of ‘Muscular, Handsome, Generic Safe-Bet White Man’. Hopefully one day the two will be the same, hopefully we’ll be so equal this isn’t even a talking point, but sadly in a world that still has racism, sexism, and homophobia these things are more than necessary.

This also acts as a thinking exercise. What message is in your work? You may not think your work carries a message at all, but perhaps it does to someone else. If you’re writing a story in which everyone is blonde, you’re accidentally excluding all the brunettes. If you’re painting a picture of a community where everyone is a white male, then you’re accidentally excluding anyone who isn’t. These messages in our work are important, even when they’re accidental. Readers, players, and viewers out there need role models, inclusion, and representation. We can all strive to show equality in our work, whether we weave those messages tactically or not.

What do you think? How do you prefer a message to be told? Do you agree that all artwork has a message behind it? Let me know in the comments below!

Creating Coincidence

I don’t believe in fate. Simple as that. I’m not someone who believes in horoscopes, or destiny, or that the world owes me anything. I don’t believe in karma, I don’t believe in judgement, and I don’t believe the world is fair… I do believe in coincidences though, but I also believe we can create these coincidences for ourselves.

For those of you that have been following, I’ve been a bit down recently. I don’t have a lot to grumble about, I mean I probably find myself stuck at work too often, and the house is constantly needing work done, but overall I have a good life. What I’ve lacked though, is motivation. The worst thing about feeling unmotivated is it can snowball; by feeling unmotivated you end up doing nothing, and the more you do nothing the less inclined you are to do anything. It’s harder to fight the inertia of doing nothing and actually do something.

This is where coincidences come into play.

You see, I have a cycle. I have moments of pure, unadulterated enthusiasm, where the world is open to me and I am en route to achieving my dreams… then I have moments where I wallow, unimpressed with my previous efforts (or lack of) and let myself sink into an unmotivated state. It can take a while for me to break this cycle, heck it can take a while for me to realise the cycle is happening, despite the amount of practice I have dealing with it and despite how obvious the signs should be by now. Sometimes, though, life breaks the cycle for you.

You may know by now that I’m a Partner of Level Up Photography LLP, well, on Saturday, Greg and I shot our first Wedding of the year! It couldn’t have come at a better time. What a kick up the ass! What a way to fuel a dwindling passion! What a way to fight the inertia! What a coincidence that it came when I needed it most… but hold on, it’s not exactly a coincidence is it?

The timing, and my mind-set, were both a coincidence, I’ll grant you. The timing was perfect, I needed inspiration and here it was handed to me on a plate. The set up though? That’s a different matter entirely. The thing is, we’d been booked to do this Wedding for months. We’d done the legwork, we’d contacted the Bride, we’d provided the service; there was no coincidence there.

The point I’m making is we can create these opportunities, we create these coincidences. I may not believe in fate, or destiny, but I believe that if you put yourself out there you stand more chance of getting results. That’s just logic. When I lie around grumbling that I’m uninspired, unmotivated, unfulfilled, I am simply not putting myself into a place with opportunity… in fact, I’m slipping away into reclusion where talents go to waste. If it hadn’t been for our previous Photography work, Greg and I wouldn’t have been booked for that Wedding. Similarly, If I hadn’t written blogs previously, you wouldn’t be here reading today.

Saturday has been a fantastic motivator. It’s been a reminder of the end goal and proof of what can be achieved with a bit of time and effort. Do I wish it happened more often? That my life was spent more often in a creative pursuit than a 9-5 office role? I do, but when I wallow in that I close the doors to my preferred future. By taking the smaller steps and by keeping up the motivation these days of inspiration are more likely to occur. That, really, is today’s message.

Today’s message, both to readers and to myself, is simply: Put yourself out there. Opportunities will appear only when you open yourself up to them. You’re going to have days, weeks, months where your work feels unsatisfactory, where you feel it’s all for nothing, but as long as you keep creating, keep putting things out there, your own work might provide an opportunity and, coincidentally, it might arrive at just the right time. Keep creating your own coincidences. Keep yourself open to opportunity.

Have you had any moments like this? Where inspiration occurred at just the right time? What do you think, was it fate or was it self-made? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Simple Steps to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed and Feel Productive Instead!

Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed? As though there is simply so much to do and there’s literally no way you can achieve it all? As though you’re drowning under a sea of never-ending tasks?

 

Forgive the hyperbole title but this has been a source of stress and anxiety for me recently. I’ve felt like life was drowning me. I’ve felt like I have had so much to juggle but no arms to do so with. The more I get stressed, the more likely I am to put off a task, and the more I put off the task, the more stressful it seems later on. As I described in Fridays Post, LINK, it’s a vicious cycle that continues like a malevolent ouroboros. I’m on my way to combat this, so I thought I’d put it into a post to help others too. Please understand I’m not speaking the gospel, my methods are not for everybody and we all live life our own way, these are just the ramblings of one man trying to make sense of his world. That said, if my words are even the slightest bit of help for you, then that makes them 100% more worthwhile.

1. Make a Plan!

In my eyes, making a plan is one of the single best things you can do; I recommend it wholeheartedly. When you make a plan you aid yourself by making your tasks look more manageable. Just by listing down your tasks, you make the tasks look more approachable. Our minds have a way of overthinking and things seem scary when they’re left to the imagination. By writing things down you give it more solidarity. Suddenly, tasks can seem a lot more manageable and a lot less intimidating. By setting yourself realistic deadlines too, if your plan goes to that much detail, you can start working slowly towards it. Plus making a plan is productive in itself! That’s a win!

2. Stick to Something!

Going hand in hand with Making a Plan, I would also advise you stick to something. You may be asking “Stick to What?”, but the beauty is it can be anything. Perhaps you decide to take five minutes of mindfulness each day, perhaps you want to go for a walk every Tuesday, perhaps you just want to read a chapter of a book each morning with your cereal… It could honestly be anything at all. It could be something you want to do, something fun, or it could be something you need to do. By Sticking to Something we form discipline, and by doing what we set our minds to do, even if it’s the smallest of the small, it’s a success…

Wait, you don’t think it’s a success? Well maybe we need to…

3. Redefine Success!

This is important. Often we feel overwhelmed because we think we need to do everything; you feel you need to write a whole book, you need to decorate the whole house, you need to fix every little problem all at once. This often isn’t the case, and it is often more to do with our mindsets, or our definitions of success. Really, success is anything you specify and we should treat it as such. If you’ve been struggling to get out of bed each morning, then it’s a success when you do. If you get up five or ten minutes earlier one day, there’s a big success right there and you’ve only just started your day! Don’t let anyone else define success for you, don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams have to be achieved this way or that, success is a personal, intimate thing and you do whatever spurs you on to keep reaching those goals!

4. Exercise!

Wow, I can’t believe that I’m someone recommending this one. The thing is, exercise helps you out of a rut, and it helps you feel more motivated in other areas. By going home each night and sitting on your bum, watching TV, you are just encouraging your body to become lethargic and tired. Exercise is great for refreshing your body and your mind. I find that, as counterproductive as this sounds, this actually works best if you don’t want to exercise in the first place… Why? Because you’re showing you’re stronger than your base instincts. If every part of you is saying “Come on, let’s give in, let’s have a McDonalds and watch Netflix all night”, but instead you force yourself to the gym, then you are showing that you are in control! You’re showing that you can overcome even yourself! Now if that’s not success, I don’t know what is. Not to mention, if this is the thing you want to ‘Stick’ to, maybe it’s a Monday Gym Session you’d normally put off, then you’re nailing all areas of my advice!

Speaking of which, my biggest piece of advice?

5. Breaking the Cycle!

If you’re like me, putting stuff off because of stress, only to stress later because you’ve put it off and therefore put it off some more… You need to break the cycle. You might feel like you need to do something drastic to break the cycle. Maybe you’ve been putting off writing a book and feel you need to write an entire chapter just to fix that. Wrong! Whilst doing that would be a great way to break the cycle, remember that doing anything is actually a break! There’s no need to get yourself worked up writing something as daunting as a chapter; maybe you write a page, or even a paragraph… Well done! You’ve broke the cycle. You’ve gone from nothing, to something, and that is a brilliant start. What follows is often a feeling a well-being, especially if we’ve redefined our meaning of success, and I can assure you that by taking the tiniest of steps forward, you feel better about taking the bigger ones. My mantra is: small steps towards the future.

All in all, if you really need to get out from under a heap of things, just take a single small step! If I’ve realised anything, it’s how much things snowball. By taking a small step, you’re more likely to take bigger ones, by making a plan, you’re more likely to act upon it. The more we put stuff off, the more stressed, more anxious, and even the more lazy we become. If this is you, and it certainly is me, start small and just do something! You’ll get there if you keep moving forward!

I really hope this post was helpful in some way, it’s something I’ve been trying to combat myself and thought I’d share my findings. Does this kind of thing work for you? Or do you maybe have some tips to share yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

When Problems are their own Solutions.

Have you ever realised that sometimes you solve your problems by… solving your problems. I don’t know how to put it better than that, and maybe it’s just me, but it’s so utterly obvious sometimes I manage miss it.

Before this post, this one you’re reading here, I started a post where I once again moaned and waffled on about my motivation. In this previous post, I talked about how my writing wasn’t flowing recently (and in truth, it hasn’t been) and I talked about how I was feeling pretty run down and a bit, for lack of a better word, shit. As I wrote this previous post, I started to lighten up, and the crumminess I felt throughout the day started to disappear. I was still tired, I was still a little bit disheartened, but I was feeling a bit more determined. Why?

Well, one of the reasons I feel naff is when I don’t feel productive. I’m all for lazy days, lazy weeks, hell give me a lazy month, but after a while they start to creep up on me and I realise that I’m wasting my time on this planet once more; I’m not working towards my goals, I’m not investing in my future. This gets me down – in fact it gets me down big time – but I often don’t realise it until it happens. It’s weird that way, I grumble and complain but I simply don’t realise the source of it all. The thing is, as I was writing the previous, now completely scrapped post I was simply trying to hit my “One Post Every Monday Guaranteed” target. It was purely some personal waffle aimed at making sure I didn’t let myself, my blog, or my audience down. In other words, it was actually productive. Now don’t get me wrong, it certainly wasn’t very good, case-in-point it’s now scrapped, and it was purely some filler piece designed to hit a statistic, but it was also progress towards something. I started to fix my problem by actually fixing my problem.

The problem with feeling unmotivated is that it can feel like quicksand. It can feel like you want to do all these things, but you can’t, or you won’t, or you don’t know how… and so you sink further. We distract ourselves from this with TV, with Video Games, with scrolling down Facebook… and we continue to sink without noticing. Just like quicksand though (and hopefully my armchair expertise on this subject doesn’t fail me) it’s about taking a slow progress. Simply by sitting down and writing, even if it was complete and utter waffle, I took a small step and I felt better, I felt lighter, I didn’t feel as stuck. Was it because I was unloading my feelings onto electronic paper? That was probably a help! Writing always makes me feel better! But it was also because I was doing what I set out to do. I was writing, which is my goal, and I was blogging and hitting that Monday deadline.

It amazes me that I don’t notice this solution more often, despite how often this cycle continues. I’ve even written before about how often I feel unmotivated only to realise it takes that one simple step forward… that little bit of productivity… and it can snowball. Productivity encourages more productivity, writing encourages more writing, and putting stuff off encourages more putting stuff off… I’m going to try not to do the latter.

Here’s to a productive week ahead!

What about you? Is there anything small you’ve been putting off that could make a big difference? Maybe this is the week to get started! Let me know in the comments below!

Who am I?

As I write this I have two drafts open: the first is a Review of Ghost in the Shell (2017) and the second is an article entitled “5 Reasons Horizon: Zero Dawn should be Celebrated”. The latter I’ve been working on for some time, the former is simply because I watched Ghost in the Shell tonight and I’ve recently given myself the task of reviewing the films I go to see.

The reason they’re both still sitting at the ‘Draft’ stage is because I haven’t been able to post them. The reason I haven’t been able to post them is because I’m a little unsure of myself. This post is basically me trying to talk myself into doing so.

The thing is, both articles deal very heavily in ‘theme’ and ‘issues’, they deal with ‘opinion’ and ‘belief’. All blogging does, to an extent. Maybe you write a blog simply about your day, your opinions still bleed through, your belief systems are there. When it comes to a review though, or an article, I find that if I’m tackling themes within the medium I’m discussing I need to at least be knowledgeable. There are plenty of people out there who simply discuss whatever comes to mind, knowledgeable or not, I mean you only have to see the outcries on Facebook or Twitter anytime anyone does anything. As much as I love to hear my own opinion, it’s partly what fuels this blog after all, I am also very wary when commenting on something else. If I review Ghost in the Shell, as I intend to do, and I discuss it’s themes and what they do/don’t do well, I begin to ask myself “Who am I to judge?”. I begin to talk myself out of posting my opinion, or I try to make myself edit things to seem less… ‘know-it-all-y’. I suppose I’m cautious about posting something and sounding as though I’m dealing in hard fact, when really it’s opinion, and from there I’m concerned with voicing an opinion when it isn’t fully versed in the subject. After all, I wouldn’t post on here about Science, or Politics, that I know nothing about, why should I voice about Games and Films?

What I do know, though, is what I enjoy and what I take away from a piece of art. The subjectivity of art gives us free-reign to voice our opinions on it and not be necessarily wrong. Messages might be woven into the narrative of a game or film, but if we take something else away it’s not our fault, nor is it necessarily the fault of the creator. Maybe a certain message or theme could be executed better, or maybe it just wasn’t for us to pick up on. Art will always appeal to different people, nobody will like everything. I could write home about how absolutely incredible this, or that, is and you might have a completely opposite experience. I could write about how a theme within a game really resonates with me, and you might simply not see it.

I suppose the question I ask myself “Who am I to judge this piece of art?”, well “Who is anyone?”. When I review something, I am telling the world what I took away from it, rightly or wrongly. Nobody can be blamed for their opinion, they can perhaps be better educated in some things, but then that is the duty of the rest of us. Some of the best pieces of work out there are also the most decisive. A difference of opinion, when done tactfully, keeps things interesting. It would be boring if we all thought the same, wouldn’t it?

And there we have it, I’ve talked myself into posting my review. It’ll probably go up on Tuesday.