Happy Late Thanksgiving! The Holiday Season is upon us. Follow my blog and my social media pages to stay updated on everything I’ve got going on for winter; I’ll drop some links at the end of this post.
Here’s November’s entry in my Top 10 series (spoiler alert, I only did Top 9 this time). Like always, these are in no particular order:
1. J.R.R. Tolkien
Every reader has the book that made them love reading, for me it was A Wrinkle in Time. And then, every writer has the book that inspired them to start their first novel, and that was Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. It’s such a normal book to inspire someone to write, but it’s about more than the book for me. J.R.R. Tolkien wasn’t just an author; he was a brilliant mind. His stories aren’t great just because he was a great writer, but because he took years of his life developing a living world, unique languages, histories and lore, and more. He inspires me because of his dedication, commitment, and talent.
2. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I was fourteen years old, I convinced my mom to buy me a book of famous speeches from throughout history. I wanted to read this book for fun because, well, I hate math and love to read. In that book I found, in full, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I have a dream speech. There’s a lot of things inspiring about MLK, but what inspires me the most is how bold and incredibly brave he was. He faced down a country that was, at some core level, poised against him, and he never slowed or backed down. While he might not have lived to see the change he evoked, the world is different today because of what Martin Luther King, Jr. did.
3. My Grandma
My grandma, Trudy Neighbour, lived to be ninety-three years old. Her life wasn’t easy—being a missionary with her husband and seven children—but she made the most of it. Later in life she developed Alzheimer’s and dementia. I barely knew my grandma until, in her eighties, she had a stroke, and my family was designated as her caretakers. She lived with us for just five years, and in those five years I learned a lot about love, patience, and the essence of caring. When my grandma came to live with us, I was scared and, in honesty, not excited—I was just eleven years old. When she passed away five years later, I was holding her in my arms. She inspired me to love unconditionally, to always be patient, and to keep others in mind.
4. Satoru Iwata
Video games aren’t loved or even liked by everyone, but growing up, they were how I bonded with my family and my friends, and video games were the first source of interactive creativity that would eventually lead to me becoming a writer. Above all, my brothers and I were Nintendo fans. Satoru Iwata became the president and CEO of Nintendo in 2002, and he led the company—and the industry—through some of its most successful years of all time. He loved to explore, to create, and to make others happy, and he exemplified those loves in everything he did. He inspired me because he perused his dreams and achieved them through kindness and ingenuity. Iwata died on July 11th, 2015, having served as Nintendo’s fourth president, and its most influential.
5. Robert Downey, Jr.
Robert Downey, Jr. is Iron Man–but that’s not the only reason I think he’s great. It’s not a secret that Downey suffered with drug and alcohol addictions earlier in his career, and those addictions nearly cost him his entire life. Downey was never a quitter (except for when he quit drinking and doing drugs), so he cleaned up, got help from his friends (namely, Mel Gibson), reclaimed his life, and is now the highest paid actor in Hollywood. Robert Downey, Jr. inspires me because, even at his lowest, he kept his eyes on the future and fought to get there.
6. Jonathan Swift
A lot of people might not know who Jonathan Swift is–but I’m certain you read his work sometime in high school and/or college. Swift is an Irish essayist and poet who never backed down from a fight. He’s famous for his satirical approach to serious issues, such as in his essay A Modest Proposal, wherein he suggests ways to help relieve the financial and starvation pandemic in Ireland (among them, eating children to save on a family’s food cost). His abrasive and unedited commentary on the wretchedness of Irish life during the 1700’s turned heads and still does today. Jonathan Swift inspires me to never shy away from a subject, and to never edit myself out of an important narrative.
7. William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth is far and away my favorite poet. He’s famous for his nature poetry, but he’s also one of the founders of the Romantic Era, during which poetry and writing of all kinds began paying closer attention to emotions and the fulfillment of the imagination. Wordsworth’s poetry was a building block for modern day literature. As a bit of a Romanticist myself, I connect to Wordsworth’s poetry in a way I don’t with most poets’ work, and the way he dances with words has inspired my own poetry more than anything else.
8. James Corden
Oh, James. James Corden makes this list because when it gets really late, and I can’t sleep (again), I’ll pop open YouTube and relax and laugh at James forcing his guests to eat nasty food or else tell their big secrets, or watch him sing alongside celebrities, matching them note for note. He’s shown time and time again how much he cares about his viewers and making people laugh. He always reminds me that it’s never too grim for a pun–something I incorporate into almost everything I do in my day to day.
9. My fiancé
Victoria, my fiancé, inspires me more than anyone else in the world. She’s there to tell me to slow down and refocus when I start to outgrow the road, or to pick myself up and keep trying when I breakdown and feel like quitting. She’s the smartest woman I know, and I would have never become the man I am if not for her love and support.
J.K. Rowling: Her influence on modern fantasy and YA is almost unparalleled.
Harper Lee: As a young boy, To Kill A Mockingbird made me think harder than I ever had before the day I reached the back cover.
William Shakespeare: The writing community owes so much to the person that helped shape the language we know today.
For more reading, check out my post from last week, Short Story: It Comes When It Needs To. Or, take a look at the books I’ve got for sale, including my new release, Mordecai – Episode One: Bloodthirsty.
This week’s writing prompt:
Write a letter to yourself from the person who inspires you most. What do you need to hear today?