Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"You're sitting next to a writer!"

I was about sixteen and had my first big crush. But it wasn't on a guy, it was on his parents, Mr. and Mrs R. I wanted them as parents-in-law sooooo bad (what can I say? I like being weird). They had two dark handsome sons, she cooked like a chef, he loved baseball, they were best friends with my parents...who wouldn't have fallen for them? (BTW, my real parents-in-law also have two handsome sons, she is a marvelous French cook and they get along great with my parents, albiet with a language barrier. They only thing they lack is baseball - they're more tennis people ;)

To top it all off, Mr. R was interested in my writing. I hadn't even decided if I was going to really do it after high school or not, but he kept telling me that I could. One time Mrs. R was sitting next to me; Mr. R leaned over saying, "Oh oh. You're sitting next to a writer!"

After I graduated and started courses with Institute of Children's Literature, Mr. R kept track of my progress. During one of our conversations, he suggested reading William Zinsser, author of ON WRITING WELL. Mr. R said to especially read WRITING ABOUT YOUR LIFE: A Journey Into the Past, as I was beginning to be interested in this type of writing. 

I read it and discovered that this was really what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be. A quote from this book has become my motto, "Writers who go on spiritual quests put themselves in a position to observe spiritual transactions. But I could also argue that I was put there by God--a God who wants to make sure His best stories get told." (pg.182, Marlowe & Company, New York) I decided that I was responsable to tell the stories around me. For another artist, it might be in paint, or telling them as bedtime stories to the grandkids. I know that I am supposed to write them and share them.

My dad told me that Mr. R had been approached about writing a book on all his baseball knowledge. I know he did a lot of research on Native American athletes. As far as I know, he hasn't written his book.

Neither have I. But I am working on it. Some days are pretty frustrating, like last Friday when I just about deleted this blog from Anne Shirley's "depths of despair" where I was wallowing. Some days are pretty triumphant, like when I open an envelope that isn't a rejection from a magazine, it's an acceptance.
It's like William Zinsser says on the last page of WRITING ABOUT YOUR LIFE; "That's also all you can do as a writer. When you write about your life, stop worrying about editors and publishers and agents and about all the readers you hope to reach. It's a privilege to write for one other person. Do it with gratitude and with pleasure." (pg.228, Marlowe & Company, New York) I think it's about time for me to reread this book!

I am so grateful that Mr. R took an interest in one of his friend's many kids. He was the first person, the first adult person, outside of  my parents to think I could do this. Have you had/do you have a mentor in print or in real life? Who spurred you on as a child or adult?  


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