Influence, and be influenced.

“I really do believe in the influence of your surroundings.”

Everyone goes through phases. Mine in particular probably started with video games as a kid, following on with bands and music in my teenage years. Being in with the ‘musical’ crowd in the latter end of secondary school, I was influenced heavily by dirty sounding guitars and stupidly long solos. I was big fan of Slash in his Velvet Revolver days, and he was pretty much the reason I picked up the guitar and started up lessons. I saw Metallica live when I was 16 and it blew my mind and I just had to meet them. (I never did, by the way.)

It’s funny how when the next chapter of your life comes along, your influences change.

I began writing again. I became associated with people who would encourage me to read more books and write more of my own material, and not only that. The people who influenced me probably didn’t mean to, or probably didn’t even realise it. I worked with children for about 5 years and in each of those years, I learnt a lot. I learnt about their wonderful sense of humour, their lack of confidence, and, if I’m honest, their cockiness at times. (It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, let me tell you.) There’s one certain child that sticks with me, and probably always will. I invested so much time into growing his confidence in his work.

My influence helped him to achieve.

It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing you’ve made a difference to someone’s life, and they’ll remember the life lessons you taught them for years to come. I like that feeling. And because of that, I was influenced too.

I wrote a short children’s story in 2016 entitled ‘Little Caroline’ (more on this later) which took into account some of the things I learned about children. I wanted to be able to write something which was easy enough for children to read, but which also gave them a lesson to take away too. Something that I would no longer be able to give after I chose a new career path. I have high hopes for this in the future, so watch this space.

Funnily enough, after my video game phase died down, it was resurrected and, after playing a good few seasons of one particular game, my mind was blown. Again. (Sorry, Metallica.)

Life is Strange. Well, it is, let’s be honest. But Life is Strange was the game that really expanded my imagination. A game that made my creative, story writing side scream and shout with joy. Metaphorically. The game focuses on a teenage girl, who gives you the ability to rewind time. This also enables the player to go back on decisions they may have already made in the game, therefore changing the fate of characters and/or the story line later on. A concept that still amazes me, and I still love it as much as the first time it was played.

I’d been thinking about writing my very own ‘novel’ for a while, and Life is Strange was just the thing I needed to influence me. To give me a plethora of weird and wonderful ideas. To make me take the plunge and write that prologue. This one is still very much in it’s early stages, and every time I reread it, I make changes. Who knows how many more changes it will need before it’s finished!

When I finally began telling people about my story and I felt brave enough to let people read what I’d done, they loved it! How? Why? Who knows. But this was the first time I’d ever let anyone other than myself read it. It felt good. It made me want to continue. And I did! I must have written another 5 good sized chapters. Another ‘watch this space’ kind of thing.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I attended a writing workshop, run by the wonderful Susan Elliot-Wright and Russ Thomas. This was something that really challenged me. The thought of travelling on my own, to spend a day with 2 authors and a bunch of people I’d never met before really made me nervous. However, it was something I wanted to do, and I did it! I read out sections of my story to a group, (urgh!) completed writing activities and spoke to people about my progress. And you know what the greatest part was? No one judged me. Everyone saw the good in my work and praised me for it. (Even the authors, whose approval I desired the most!) Again, another one of my influences. When I feel a bit of a block, I do think about their words and the progress they’ve made on their own novels. You don’t get anywhere if you don’t stick at it!

You know what you really need?

People who believe in you.

And these people are the most influential people of all. You can know someone for years and years. You could speak to them every day. They could be a best friend, a partner or a family member and not take the slightest bit of notice of your achievements. We’ve all been there. You know when you’ve got people in your life who inspire and motivate you, and that’s right where I am today.

At the ripe old (young) age of 25, I’ve finally been confident enough to share my writing with others and to also grab an opinion or chunk of feedback from them. The more you share your work, the more you discuss your ideas or a theory, the more confident you will feel about it all. I’ve taken on board advice from my close ones, and felt influenced by a number of things throughout the years. All of these things have lead me to where I am and what I have achieved today. I’m proud of that achievement, and just thinking back puts a big old smile on my face.

What have your influences been and how have they influenced you? I’d love to hear your story 🙂

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