Being Influential 

Recently I mentioned that I had exchanged a few e-mails with one of the first serious creative writing teachers I worked under. At the time he was a grad student and I was a teen. You won”t know about this unless you follow me on Twitter.

I searched up his e-mail address cold and wrote to him saying that I had found my creative writing portfolio from his workshop. I”ll preface by mentioning that this is a notebook I”ve wondered about a few times over the past couple years, but never have gotten around to finding. It happened two weeks ago that M.Sto was dragging boxes out of the depths of Stover Mancha on her way to finding some wicker furniture for a patio party and she pulled a few J.Sto file boxes. You can guess what I found inside.

After spending an evening with that portfolio, I instantly came to appreciate the quality of his notes and the positive professional influence he had on my work. His workshop prepared me to engage in the professional screenwriting workshop I started upon hitting the ground in LA and to not be intimidated in doing so because I had experience. I thanked him for his influence, wrote a little about what I was up to and wished him well. He wrote back to me that I had made a beautiful pitch and he had thus become a Wingman. Blushing, I wrote back that his recruitment hadn”t been my intention and that I earnestly wanted to thank him (you”ve observed I have a history of gratefully acknowledging mentorship) and just let him know that I was up to interesting things that drew upon the skill I developed under his tutelage.

In truth I hadn”t stood out in his workshop at all as I typically do in groups--if not in talent then from sheer personality or” loudness--no, I hadn”t stood out. I was busy in life, focused on the AOL gig and focused on not letting that intervene with my presence in a workshop wherein most the writers were at least 15 years older than me and I was in danger of being viewed as a teenybopper without the knowledge that I was helming a teen pop culture show, much less if anyone knew about that + my SECRET HOLLYWOOD AMBITIONS (pursuing acting is never regarded with respect, unfortunately). I was overworked, hustling and kept my head down and wrote as often as possible. I was also very shy about sharing my literary work with strangers. This teacher, however, did not let me get away with that: He pushed and required me to show him my entire personal creative writing journal, which was not a part of the final portfolio and something I thought no one else would see.

As I thumbed through my portfolio, I knew I wouldn”t have been able to create JSDC at that time if he hadn”t shaken me out of my comfort zone via assignments and the general structure of peer feedback in workshop. My last thought to him in my response e-mail was that the feedback should have come a few years sooner, right after the workshop, but I had failed in that regard. I was spread very thin, dreaming big and on a path to moving across the country. It is also possible that I hadn”t come to recognize the influence of intellectual and creative coaches as I had athletic coaches.

As I said, you”ve noticed I typically inform friends, mentors, colleagues and coaches in a timely manner, when I feel the time is right, of how thankful I am for their existence in my life, career and network in general. It”s simply important to me to do so because I value those relationships and what I learn from them.

Do you guys know Sean Bonner? Bonner vetted me in the blogosphere. Did you know that? I doubt I would have appeared on Wil Wheaton dot Net or anywhere else where you probably heard of me over the years if Sean Bonner hadn”t had a public IM that he actually answered. I pinged him my Star Wars adventure since he had been up to his own epic and he was like, “hey! this is pretty good!” And then suddenly it was on Then, it was everywhere else! I went from reading one blog to reading many and suddenly people knew I was alive in the online space in a more meaningful, not teen-tastic way. They read my archives and became my new stranger-friend-readers. Then Bonner and I dressed up Ninja-style and stole some cookies from some nerds at 3AM in the morning and stayed there playing LOTR trivia and watching scenes from TRON until some inappropriate jock nerd tried to convince me to wear a Leia bikini the next time I visited and I was all yeah time to leave this piece.

Bonner”s also a formal WINGMAN which is rather significant given that I can”t even get him to do a WINGMAN video because he is so in demand to be famous in everyone”s Internet videos such as in the time he played Wesley Crusher on Galacticast or his cameo in BoingBoing”s CompuBeaver. Informally, since I force him to be my friend, he”s given me much advice over coffee and Pink”s hotdogs and even was part of the HD shoot we did last Winter wherein we depicted the status and hopes of ARTEMIS at that time. I”m saving that footage (you”ll see it on the future of the ARTEMIS map) as I believe it will be best served edited against the context of whatever is to come. Bonner was there all day for that: He was there early, half asleep sitting on the steps during the most boring set-up process ever and cutting the strings off my freshly sown wardrobe with his handy and slightly alarming pocketknife. And he remained my buddy when I was super-gloomy last winter and spring and thought the whole world was ending and there was nothing I could do about it at all and was surprised I had any friends at all.

Sean is very skilled at the Internets and fortunately pushes me to do all kinds of things I refuse to do like join Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and I”ve found he”s usually right and that argument wherein I”m a stubborn asshole who doesn”t want 50 online profiles because that would just be uncomfortable and annoying and whaa whaa turns out to be ineffective when it comes to sharing stories and projects like ARTEMIS ETERNAL. He has been known to say he”s not a nice person, but I”ve observed that he gives a lot of himself to his community, the Internet community, being generous with his expertise and presence and is an active part of key dialogues both online and at conferences. He also knows anyone who has ever done anything cool and/or useful on the Internet which is why he”s so busy despite his always claiming that he only hangs out with like three people. Meanwhile all his Twitters are like, “I”m @SeanBonner and I”m hanging with @infinity people so popular!” And hey didn”t he design the cover to Wheaton”s latest book?

I don”t mean to lionize the people I hang out with: none of us are perfect beings after all, but the people who wander in and out of my sphere are excellent, really; including you.

A thought Bonner touched on briefly in his most recent post, a post I”d consider this a response to in the “Being Influential” department, was a habit of using Twitter in place of posting actual entries.

I”ve been guilty of that as well. I find that if I want to write and do more creatively in a larger, professional sense then I have to scale back on posting here and view JSDC more as a warm up portfolio and draft space. If I want to return to posting more creatively here then it is likely I need to scale back on Twitter.

So I will scale back a little on Twitter, still remain scaled back on writing here but do it more so than of late (due to the Twitter scale-back), and work just as hard as always at carving out creative time for myself so that I”m producing professional projects that can be published and/or filmed; what have you.

Anyway, I”m not your babysitter Sean Bonner, but if you need a kick in the pants feel free to bookmark this entry and refer to it and it will re-energize and make you over like She-Ra calling on the power of the Grayskull. Also, I”m pretty sure it will turn your bike into a Pegasus.

PS: I don't think it would be wrong for anyone to Photoshop Sean Bonner into She-Ra atop a rainbow Pegasus and send it to me. Just saying.

It's like Christmas up in here: Sean-Ra! Interwebs Savior

And yes; that horn is dubious.

*Thanks to Tara Brown for procuring this amazing Photoshop created by Vincent, a.k.a. Master of Sean's Universe!

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