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!

My image, my focus: Kindness Challenge Week 1

Imagine a figure, blurred. The background behind vibrant, bustling and ever changing; a wall of monitors displaying thousands of different images and flickering all at once. Each flashing image has a soundtrack, but each is simply drowned by the other; each a smaller part of the ever growing cacophony. You’d be forgiven, given the scene in view, that these countless images, that there is no meaning here; that each screen serves only to be part of the whole, and to perpetuate this mess of unintelligible information. Closer inspection of the figure in front, however, will show you that his eyes do shift briefly, that his attention does focus, and his own image along with it. The blurred figure, in fact, may not be blurred at all when his eyes focus, like a lens finding a focal point. When he sets his sight on one image, one dream, he aligns again. There is definition to him, shape. He has presence, and physicality where previously there was none… but it’s fleeting. It’s lost again to the next saccadic movement.

*****

This week was Self Love on the 2017 Kindness Challenge, my intentions, for which, can be found here: Setting My Intentions. This week we’ve been challenged to take note of all the ways we feel we have to earn our own approval. This sounded a good premise on its own, but then I saw the suggestion of ‘Create a self-portrait’. Now, I’m no painter, but I am a photographer. I was determined to build an image with my camera and use that as a statement ‘This is who I am’ or ‘This is who I feel’, and then counterbalance it with an image of ‘Who I would like to be’. I never had the time or resources to take the image, though. I had the equipment, but the setup was a little harder than I’d care to admit, I wasn’t able to achieve the vision I originally set out to portray – the irony isn’t lost on me, by the way. Then it occurred to me, I may be a Photographer, but I am also, undeniably a Writer! So, I turned the image into prose instead… and thus I started doing myself a kindness… I’ll explain.

See, the piece above is open to interpretation… but to me represents my feelings towards myself. You’re welcome to interpret my writing however you see fit, and I’d love you to share below if you see it differently, however I’d like to explain what it also means to me. The figure, if you hadn’t guessed, is myself… or, at least, the way I feel about myself. I’m fuzzy, undefined, intangible. The backdrop in the piece is a portrayal of my dreams, my many, many dreams. Unspoken, and unreferenced, there’s dreams of being a good boyfriend, being a good son, being a writer, being a photographer, being the best me I can be… I often feel I am struggling forward towards these dreams, but also that I’m making no progress, mainly because, more often than not, I am just sitting back and watching them pass me by. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know this lack of motivation is a constant topic I try to address; this piece is no different.

Early on, I realised that the Self Portrait I had in mind was out of my reach, my aim was too high, and it was unachievable. Rather than beating myself up about it though, I knew I still needed a post for Self Love this week. So, I adapted. By doing this, I achieved my dream image, but I painted it with words rather than painting it with light. I didn’t allow myself to become distracted (mainly because I had a deadline) and I didn’t allow myself to become disheartened (because I found a different route of approach).

My soul searching for this week has revealed that I feel lost when I am not working towards my dreams, but also that I am far too content to allow myself to get to that point. I have so many dreams I want to achieve, that sometimes I simply lose sight of the one for the many. The sheer quantity of them, and the lack of focus I have for them, encourages them to build up and encourages me, their viewer, to simply sit back and watch them play out without me. My dreams define me, for better or worse. I want to say “I am a writer!“, I want to say “I am a photographer!“, I want to say all these things, but I won’t allow myself to define ‘Me’ that way if I don’t achieve them. That’s how I judge myself worthy of approval, if I’m succeeding in these goals. I need to teach myself to understand that these goals and dreams may help to define me in some instances, but they certainly don’t define my worth. I need to learn that I am capable of loving myself even when I don’t meet my standards, and that through self-love I actually support myself in meeting these standards in future. If I support myself, if I focus on the aspects in my life that are worthwhile, that help build my future, then all the better. I need to focus on ‘getting there’, not focus on having ‘not got there yet’.

If I had to set a Mantra based on my discovery for this week, it would simply be: “Find Focus”.

When I’m down because I’ve wasted another day without creativity: Find Focus. When I’m feeling guilty that I haven’t spent as much time with my family as I could: Find Focus. When anxiety is building up inside of me at the thought of ‘putting myself out there’ and taking a risk: Find Focus.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Film Review

You may notice that the first Guardians of the Galaxy scores very highly with most people, as both a standalone film and as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When it arrived it presented a fresh new take on a genre people were worried was on the verge of stagnating. It was Marvels way of saying “We’re not done yet!” and giving us faith that, whether you enjoy them or not, Super Hero films were staying for a long, long time. In fact, I imagine Guardians even hit a sweet spot with those who did feel the genre had over stayed its welcome, and I imagine it hit the same sweet spot with some people who didn’t enjoy the genre at all. It was action packed, it was funny, and it presented a wealth of crazy new characters the likes of the big screen had yet to see. All in all, it was a lot for a sequel to live up to, and Vol. 2 is no doubt going to be compared to its predecessor as every sequel always will be… So, the question is does it live up to number one? The answer, in short, is a positive, and resounding yes.

GotG Vol 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is another visually stunning, action packed and hilarious romp through the universe. It’s once again vibrant and spectacular, and it hits the same amount of comedic beats as the first film. As a film, it’s an incredibly enjoyable watch that’ll make you laugh and gasp and drool all the way through. As a sequel, its about everything you could hope it would be without it being better than the first. It’s there that lies the point of contention – Does it live up to the first? Yes, but it doesn’t exceed it.

Number one in the franchise scores major points for being the first in its line. It broke the repetition of Super Hero movies and showed us that Marvel was willing to let loose and enjoy some of its more ‘wacky’ narratives. With DC constantly pushing its ‘Dark and Grim’ films, Marvel was here putting as many colours to the screen as colourists put into comicbook panels. For the statement that Gunn and Marvel made with the original GotG, it’s going to automatically score some big points. The fact that Gaurdians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues in the same vein, is in danger of coming across more like “playing it safe”, but after all there’s only so many times you can break a mould.

The sequel is also unavoidably handicapped because the characters have mainly all been revealed in the first. These characters are no longer new and squeaky clean, we know what to expect from them and their dynamic. It was the characters that quite clearly made the original, Sure, there was flashy worlds to visit, there were aliens to meet, there was infinity stones… but really we loved Guardians for the characters. Whilst Pom Klementieff does a great job of playing Mantis, and Kurt Russell does simply amazing job of… well, being Kurt Russell, these new characters can only fill a gap so much. So, again we’re at risk of ‘safe zone’ territory.

All this aside though, Gunn does something very clever here; he makes the film smaller. The original Guardians was about introductions. It was about introducing us to space, galaxies, and just how weird the universe can be. For the Marvel Cinematic universe the implications here were enormous, no longer were the stories relatively earth bound (even Thor was tied to Earth in his narratives). Guardians showed us that Earth was not alone, and it showed us by blasting us from colourful planet to colourful planet, showing us big grand action sequences, and even introducing us to a style and humour, which was quite clearly much broader than the other Cinematic entries… Then Vol. 2 has come along, and made it tighter.

Whether it was a symptom of being part of a larger canon (and therefore not as free to manipulate events, due to implications it would have for other films at other parts of the timeline), or whether as a conscious decision off the back of the first, its hard to say. Easy to say though, is that it really works. We’re still shown a few planets, we’re still shown some space flight and some epic battles, but its more grounded. We’re no longer surprised by these unique new characters, so instead we’re given a personal story about them, a more intimate story about family. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 recognises its past introductions, and is building off of it. Vol. 2. takes the original recipe, changes only a few ingredients, and manages to create a different and still fantastic result, which maintains the same flavours as before. Sure, sometimes it may feel like we’ve had this before, we may compare it to the original and not feel exactly the same way, but stand it on its own and it does incredibly well. It’s a film that sets out and accomplishes everything it intends, whilst maintaining its ties to the original without feeling stagnant or done before. Most of all, it achieves all this whilst remaining fun.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is well worth a visit to see at the cinema, and it is well worth its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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!

Thinking About Me

Recently I’ve been thinking About Me.

No wait, I’ve been thinking about my “About Me”. You’d be surprised how similar the two statements are though, despite sounding different. Both require a certain understanding of myself.

I’ve known for ages how old my About Me section is outdated. Hell, the photo I was using on it was from when I was between 19 to 21. To put it into perspective, I’m 27 now and 28 in less than a month! Time for an update, right? Not to mention I didn’t even have a beard back then… I’m not me without my beard!

 So, with thanks to Suzie’s post How to Create a Successful About Page, I’ve refereshed mine!

I’ve added a more current interpretation about who I am, along with what I’m trying to achieve in both life and on the Clouds. I’ve also summarised my Posting Schedule, in case you find yourself so inclined.

You can find it by clicking here: About Me

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!