With moving to a new city again, there have been a number of instances over the last week or so that I have been quizzed about my career choice.
The first question, usually, is how I came to freelance writing, as no one tosses out "freelance writer" during the customary Elementary School "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Sessions. Hell, I couldn't even have answered "freelance writer" myself as recently as a couple years ago.
After that though, one of the most frequently asked questions is about my influences. Somehow, I've gone this long without putting them down here for your knowledge.
Top Five Influences
5. Peter Kyte
As much as we don't see eye to eye on a number of things, my brother was the first person in my life that I saw find his passion and chase after it. From the time he was fourteen, he knew he wanted harness racing to be where he made his career and nothing stood in the way of that. It's been a long and hard road over the years, but he's doing what he loves and is having some success doing it and that is really all that matters.
4. Kevin Smith
Speaking of people who dropped out of school to pursue their craft... Jersey's Own has built an outstanding career that started from thousands of dollars in credit card debts to make a little movie called Clerks. There is just an openness that comes across in Smith's work makes him even more appealing and influential to me. He's just a dude who wanted to make movies with his buddies...
3. Kanye West
Some people dislike Kanye for what they perceive as cockiness. I see it as confidence and an unwavering belief in himself. To me, anyone who wants to be the best at what they do needs that quality and Kanye has it in spades. How could he not? Not that long ago, no one had any interest in Kanye West the rapper. Now, he's one of the top artists in the world and one of my greatest influences.
2. George Stromboulopoulos
If you were around for Rundown #1, this one shouldn't surprise you. Strombo presents the ideal package of what I would like to be as a journalist - intelligence, character and wit with a healthy dose of Pop Culture knowledge thrown in there too. My Canadian idol...
1. Chuck Klosterman
His work is what first made me think a career in writing was a possibility. His Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs was the first book I had come across (courtesy of a Strombo segment on The New Music, incidentally) that combined great writing with the topics that are nearest and dearest to my heart: pop culture, video games, music, movies and self-deprication. I've read it all since then and have even followed him to Esquire over the last couple of years. Homeboy is my hero.