Random acts of influence.

And now that I’m off my ragey little soap box, let’s try something a little more fun. When I was in that token Sociology class that just about everyone had to take at NECCO (or some kind of equivalent), the teacher (an exceptionally awesome Criminal Justice professor, who colored everything with crime and crime like objects due to her profession) told us that sociological theory is that our personalities are shaped by outside influences, from smallest to greatest.

So, some boy runs up and gives you a flower on the playground when you’re six, that’s going to have an effect. Alternatively, someone punches you in the face at random, this will also change some part of you. (I equate this with the Dane Cook bit about practicing a little B&E.)

I like to think that we’ve got a little more than a little control over how we turn out, but I see the point. I think I’d be down a few pegs in the strangeness department if my Dad hadn’t been intent on dropping me in front of The Crypt Keeper for probably far too many rounds of Tales From the Crypt, as well as every bit of SciFi and Monster Mash he’d loved all his life. If my mother had been successful in getting me away from The Simpsons, maybe I’d be a touch less irreverent.

If she’d gotten me to stop watching Goosebumps, I’d never have known the accursed Bug God episode. (OhdearGodtheterror.)

And let’s not forget my obsessively voracious reading, and when the Young Adult section no longer satisfied me in fourth grade, I moved swifly onto adult novels. (I’ll never forget bringing in some Spiderman related book with this gorgeous picture of Venom gracing the cover, and how badly it freaked the other kids out.) And the one always topping that docket at my young and vulnerable age? Stephen King.

There’s the social aspects, both direct and indirect. I got into fights as a kid (half the time because I was playing Playground Protector, even when it was up against a girl twice my size), and was a guerrilla terrorist to my poor long suffering parents. (“If you don’t clean up your room, we’re going to pack up your toys and put them away!” “Okay.”) And then there’s all that other stuff. But I’m off my ragey little soapbox, so we’ll skip that.

It all plays a part, and it’s scary to think of the ever present What Could’ve Been, if one wire had gotten crossed, or one left turn had been made. (Another Doctor Who reference, I win!) The many years I spent watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel still inform the way I see things today. (Even how I talk, for Christ’s sake. I still break out ‘wiggy’ without a second thought.) And then, of course, there’s the indelible effect Monty Python and South Park left on the entire span of my teenage years, and how it helped to form my sense of humor.

Of course, life experience also had a big hand in that one. If you can’t laugh about family dysfunction, self image, PCOS, consistent broke assery, social awkardness, cancer, medical chaos, and so on… What can you laugh about?

That’s what I thought.

I never examined my influences as much as I have been recently. In writing, I’ve read too much Stephen King to discount his influence (easily found in my penchant for repetition and my Capitalizing Habit), or Christopher Golden. I tried to incorporate a little Shirley Jackson into Here and Now, even though I know I’m nowhere near that good. Who else might’ve played a part, I couldn’t tell you. Probably Dennis Lehane, since I obsessively snatched up everything he ever wrote after getting into the Kenzie/Gennaro series (Patrick Kenzie is my Edward Cullen), but I read a lot of random things, so I’m not sure. All of it does. None of it does. Who’s to say?

My idea of what I want to be as a filmmaker is ever changing, though as a writer first and foremost I know whatever I do will likely have a tendency to get heavy on the dialogue. Still, I find the way I think when plotting out a scene in my head’s colored by Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Kathryn Bigelow, and Danny Boyle. (A fun anecdote: I got into a car accident once a year or two ago, and my brain’s reaction to the shock was thinking about how I’d shoot it; not from my own perspective, but from my father’s, as he was the driver and therefore his eyeline was furthest away from the direction the car was coming in. Then when I yelled to my father, the camera would swing around just in time for the collision. More shocking. I saw this from both perspectives as I was experiencing the crash.) As well was, you know, every movie I’ve ever seen. Probably.

I know my style when I’m working is a little like how I imagine they’d be (although that’s hardly what I’m thinking about at the time, there’s usually way too much flying through my head); go in knowing exactly what you want and how you’re going to get it, and make sure all your expectations are known. Then keep momentum, even if it kills you.

Anyone who’s suffered through working with me knows exactly what I’m talking about.

How far it all extends, I don’t know. I couldn’t, for example, tell you who my blogging style was shaped by. Except for, you know, me. But it’s always something to consider, isn’t it? Even if you just use it as something to do when you’re bored.

So, People Who Stumble Across This Mess, what’re you influenced by? Life, work, art (or WArt, if they’re one and the same for you), anything goes. If you’re doing something, it’s highly likely someone’s gone before you (and if no one has, and you’re doing something like Porcupine Darts or some kind of craziness, I want to know about that too), so who do you have to thank or hate all over?

Come on. ‘Fess up to Auntie Sara. You know you want to.


~ by Sara on December 3, 2011.

4 Responses to “Random acts of influence.”

  1. I can think of two situations that, I am confident, went on to influence me-
    1. At primary. school, I was once stung by a bumblebee through my skirt. I told a teacher, & I just remember him saying that it mustn’t have been a bumblebee because it hadn’t left a stinger. That one incident has forever left me with a sense that I won’t be believed. God help me if I ever get arrested for anything…
    2. Also when I was rather young… My older sister & I used to attend the same dance class each week. One week, my sister was sick & stayed home. After class, I waited outside for my ride home. And waited. It began to get dark & I still waited. Eventually, I gave up & began the walk home. I was careful to walk the same way we went by car-just in case. Finally, a little over a block from home, my mum picked me up. So, they did remember me… eventually.
    Otherwise, I had a model childhood. The kind that screws you out of inspiration.

    • You know, I haven’t had that first one happen to me, but the second one has. That can be an interesting feeling for a kid, can’t it?

      Every family has quirks, I’m sure yours gave you plenty of inspiration in their own way. It might just be subtle. πŸ˜‰

      • Yes. I think that, as a child, being forgotten can potentially have a huge impact on how important you feel.
        I have inspiration from times spent camping & doing family road trips. I might have to delve into these for some blog posts, huh?
        But, I really enjoy your tales. In fact, I think you’d make a great character.

      • And all those things that seem so small or stupid to the grown ups really stick.

        I’d recommend it, you never know what you’ll find it.

        I think that’s the most amusingly awesome compliment I’ve gotten in a long time, I appreciate it. And it’s always good to know other people are getting something about of this babble other than me, I aim to entertain. πŸ˜‰

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