This Sunday, Kevin Smith is coming to town, and Cheryl and I will be in attendance to see him.
Now, for those of you who are sick to death of hearing about Kevin and are just rolling your eyes at the mention of him, you may want to just stop reading now. I won’t blame you. I know he’s an acquired taste. I’m sure he knows he’s an acquired taste. I happen to admire him very much. He’s made me laugh for over 15 years since I sat down and watched Dogma, becoming a fan at that very moment, and I’m excited about the possibility of making a statement to him and asking a question.
What do I mean about “making a statement?” Well, in recent years, during his Q&A’s that take place around the time when he made and self-distributed Red State (which is awesome, by the way), he made a point to talk about artists in general. Being a content generator (movies, television, internet radio, books, etc.), he’s very much aware of how difficult it can be to stay inspired in a time when people go out of their way to discourage you. What he said has been repeated in his appearances, on podcasts, and in his book “Tough Sh*t.” Someone was nice enough to make a meme out of it, which is below…
Kevin also talked about how there’s so much “why” in this world. “Why would you do that?” So go out and find someone who will say “why not” to you instead. “Why not do that?” He remembers the feeling of validation when Scott Mosier was onboard with his idea to make a small movie taking place in a convenience store. And he wants every artist to feel that same validation when it comes to their own ideas.
My “why not” is a two-parter. The first was the rewrite of “From Parts Unknown.” From the average perspective, that story looks like a failed project because it came out in 2002, sold a few copies to friends and family, and then faded away into obscurity. (Well, there’s no “looks like,” it WAS a failed project, but looking back on it, I’m happy it was. If more people knew of, bought, and liked that 2002 version, I may not have felt the need to revise it to the extent that I did.) Anyway, by the time “Excelsior” was re-launched by Rocking Horse Publishing and looked like it was going to be a modest success, I was encouraged to write the sequel as soon as possible, but I had an un-finished project that I felt was worth completing - the re-write of “From Parts Unknown” – and it was Kevin’s ordeals with writing his project “Hit Somebody” that inspired me to turn this new-and-improved story into a five-part serial. By January 2015, I was finally finished with Part 5, and the complete serial was released as an eBook by Rocking Horse Publishing in November 2015. Finishing it and giving it a home were huge victories for me, and I was able to move on to the “Excelsior” sequel not long after that.
The other “why not” in my life was my decision to narrate my own audiobook of “Excelsior.” Obviously I’ll get into the finer details in later blog posts, but this was something I had been kicking around in my head for years, and when I got the green light from my publisher to proceed, I knew I was on to something.
RHP – my literary home – had become my “why not” champion. They took on “From Parts Unknown,” they let me narrate my audiobook, and who knows what else they have in store for me in the future?
The main thing I want to tell Kevin when I see him on Sunday is this: We all have the potential to be the Wayne Gretzky of our own lives. We can score big goals and we can assist others with scoring theirs. But every now and then, we all need a Walter Gretzky to give us some much-needed advice, to steer us in the direction to be what we want to be in life, and that’s where Kevin comes in. His success has inspired me to seek out my own passions, find what drives me, and not give up when I’m feeling discouraged. That “if I don’t do this, I’m really gonna regret it” feeling is normal for an artist to feel, and his words consistently remind me of that.
So yeah, if you’re reading this, Kevin, hi. And hope you don’t mind the spoiler alert for what I’m going to say on Sunday night. I obviously have no idea how this will all play out until it does, but whatever happens, I’ll let you guys know.
One more thing. Back when he announced he was going to self-distribute Red State, Kevin felt the need to have a totem in hand to give him the strength to make this turn in his career. His totem of choice was the last hockey stick Wayne Gretzky used as an Edmonton Oiler. When I see him on Sunday evening, I’ll have my own totem on hand when I tell him basically everything I said here: my copy of “Tough Sh*t” on audiobook.