I noticed a couple of years ago that when asked for your inspirations or influences, most people would provide examples of extremely high level people in their fields. While this is true of everyone, there seems to be an odd hesitance to recognize people who are not world famous as being an influence on your work or your life. So this week I wanted to throw out some names and some work of people who inspire, motivate and influence me. Some of them I know personally, most I do not. All of them are worthy of praise, acknowledgement and support.
I started watching Nika Harper in videos back when she was the Riot Girl for Riot Games, delivering witty, adorable Summoners Spotlights as I was trying my best to understand League of Legends (she helped, but I was still awful). Fast forward a few years and she started making Word Play, a You Tube writing prompt show that made me feel like someone had finally given me permission to write short stories, and at exactly a time that I needed it. She is the author of Echoes of Old Souls, a collection of delightful short stories that I will highly recommend to anyone of the spooky persuasion. She has a Patreon page for Word Play, as well as one for her other works.
I know I said I wanted to shy away from people who were world famous, and Amanda certainly falls in to that category, but I’m including her because of her stance on community and her communication with her fans. Outside of loving her music before I knew who it was by (Girl Anachronism by the Dresden Dolls was on an unlabeled mix CD that my high school friend gave me, and I spent hours re-listening to it and marveling over the piano), she has built herself, her music and her work from the ground up. Her Patreon is incredibly successful, as was her kickstarter to create her own music off of her previously oppressive label. I may not have aspirations to be a musician, but I want to make art the way that I have seen her make it, the way I have watched her perform it: With complete abandon and arms wide open to her audience for input, love, criticism and support. Her book The Art of Asking reads like one giant blog post from her to the reader and I will recommend it to any artist I know.
I found Kiri’s You Tube channel near the end of college during Youtube’s geek week back in 2013. I found a lot of my favorite You Tubers to this day through this one week of mass created nerdery and it was wonderful. Kiri is the author of Alys: The Terra Mirum Chronicles, which came out on October 31st (Yes, halloween) of 2016, and is still the only book that I have read more than once. Beyond being talented as a writer, singer and general content creator, her work is always direct, down to earth, and from the heart, all things that I aspire to be in my own work.
Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink (Click here the for Welcome to Night Vale website)
Just after I moved to Chicago, a friend of a friend asked me if I liked podcasts, then sat me down to listen to a handful of episodes of some of the weirdest stories I had ever heard. This was my introduction to Welcome To Night Vale, the podcast created by Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink that now tours around the world, has produced at least one novel, and is now releasing their scripts in book format. I love, adore and devour weird fiction. Welcome to Night Vale is an HP Lovecraft story that tripped and fell in to Neil Gaiman’s London Below and got coated in a layer of Warehouse 13.Weird fiction got me back to reading. Weird fiction let me play in my short stories because as long as I could write it, it could work. Their podcast has grown and grown, and now Alice Isn’t Dead has joined WTNV as one of my favorite ultra-creepy podcasts that will always make me end up. They have an amazing balance of comedy and seriousness wrapped in to ridiculous scenarios created by amazing characters. I don’t know how I could not find that inspiring.
Inspiration comes from everywhere, from nationally touring indi artists to creators that you found on You Tube during one fateful Florida summer, to that one friend who just doesn’t give up. This is far from a complete list, but these creators have seriously inspired and motivated me. Who are your inspirations, big or small?