Friday, March 20, 2009

Inspiration

I've been thinking a lot lately about when, where, how, I ever got interested in writing in the first place. I traced it back to two specific things that happened in my life that planted the initial seed.

The first happened was when I was sixteen years old and I was dating a boy whose sisters didn't like me (I know you all collectively gasped. Who couldn't like me, right?). So they wrote me a letter listing out the reasons they didn't like me (they were 19 and 21, btw. Man, I wish I still had that letter because I can't for the life of me remember what they were, but I bet they were good). I wrote them back to defend myself. After they read the letter, one of his sister's said, "Wow, you're a really good writer. You expressed yourself so well." LOL I still remember that because I was so flattered. It was like, well, I know you hate me, but thanks, did you want to give me some more feedback or anything? Were there points I could've improved or said differently. LOL

The second experience which steered me towards writing was the creative writing class I took in high school (which led to more classes later in college). My teacher was so encouraging and always had a way of making me feel good about my stuff. At the bottom of all my stories, she'd write things like, 'This one was great, you should submit it.' At the time I had no idea just how hard it was to get things published, but it made me feel good.

Because I've been thinking about this specific teacher and how much she influenced me, I decided to try to find her email address. It wasn't hard at all because she still teaches at the high school. I went to the website and it was right there. So I wrote her, told her how awesome she was, and then told her I was working on some edits for a book I was getting ready to resubmit to an agent. I asked her if she'd be interested at all in reading it. If she had time, of course. I needed someone who hadn't read my first draft and who could look at it with "fresh" eyes. She wrote me back like ten minutes later saying she had just been talking about me to another teacher that very day (huh? I graduated in '94, so weird/awesome). Anyway, to make an already lengthy post short, she told me that she would love to read my manuscript and, in fact, was very excited to do it (see, she still knows how to make me feel good). I was so stoked (bringing out the high school words). My high school creative writing teacher is going to be reading my MS next week. I wonder if she'll give me a grade.

So, do you remember the specific event/person who inspired you to follow your dreams?

20 comments:

  1. Wow! What a great story.

    I had always made up stories in my head, but never seriously thought about writing them down until I had an "empty nest." In 1999, for the first time in 31 years, I didn't have a little one in the house and one day, while I was writing an article for a genealogy newsletter, it occured to me that I could write a book ... and I did. A terrible one, but still ...

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  2. That's great! I love that you stood up to those girls. How rude are they? Man. Seriously, who could NOT like you?

    I've been writing since kindergarten...so I'm not sure where my motivation comes from. I just honestly love it. I was that kid in class who got GIDDY when my teacher taught me to write an essay. I PRACITICED everyday—of my own free will. I would pick a topic and write that 5 paragraph essay.

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  3. Great lessons on the importance of nasty people and good teachers in our lives. They can both propel us toward our goals! :)

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  4. This is so very cool. I guess I was in the dark about a lot of things in high school. I'm just shocked about #1. There isn't a hint of irony or sarcasm when I ask "Who wouldn't like you?" Now, that sounds a little sarcastic, but it's not and I don't know how to make it sound any better. I'm not a writer. You were/are awesome. Love ya!

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  5. Those are some great experiences! Thanks for sharing.

    I had two amazing high school teachers who helped get my passion up for writing. They would read my novels and point out what needed to change and what was good. I really should email them! What a great idea!

    My writing started when I was in middle school. I loved to read and wanted to tell stories that nobody else was writing. :)

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  6. I know exactly when I became "serious" about writing. I was in 8th grade and I got an A+ on a short story titled, "The Murder of Mr. T.J. Donahue." It was one of those exercises where you were given a list of words and you had to incorporate them into a story - any story at all. I wrote a funny murder mystery (which is interesting, because that's what I'm working on now!) and the line I remember most is, "Shut up and eat your biscuits and chestnuts!" No doubt "biscuits" and "chestnuts" were words on the list that I had no idea what to do with...!!!

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  7. I had positive feedback from teachers as well, but it was more a couple college professors who motivated me to think seriously about writing, just in the way they taught their classes. Even then, years passed before I sat down and seriously made it a part of my life.

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  8. Ha! the first story is so funny. Hey, you should look up those sisters and tell them too!

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  9. Linda, and I'm so glad you started writing. I love your writing. Adore it. Wish it was my own. :)

    Nat, I know, seriously, who couldn't? LOL Actually, I'm sure they had good reasons. I love your essay story, that's funny. You were just born to write.

    Angie, it's true, motivation is a funny thing.

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  10. Heather, lol, thanks for defending me. And by the way, you write things very well, I was just on your blog, love your story.

    Michelle, you totally should write them. It was so fun. My teacher said it was one of her very favorite things to hear from old students.

    Debra, LOL that's so funny. And that was a very clever way to use the words biscuits and chestnuts. And what a fun exercise.

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  11. Joanne, yeah, I have a couple of college professors who really motivated me too. That's awesome. Aren't teachers amazing?

    Corey, I totally should. LOL I actually have no hard feelings towards them whatsoever. I wasn't being sarcastic at all when I credit them with my desire to write. So maybe I should write them a letter. I wonder if I could do it without coming off as sarcastic. LOL

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  12. Ok, I was in eighth grade and I had to do a report on a certain place in AZ. I picked Links Lake, and I had to write about the history of it. The teacher said we could be creative, so I wrote my report like I was at the Lake and found the diary of the person who discovered the Lake. Then I wrote diary entries from that man's POV. Everyone told me how great it was, but the compliment that meant the most to me was when my dad said I should become a writer. My parents divorced when I was 6, I lived mostly with my mom from then on, so to get any kind of encouragement from dad really meant alot to me. There are several other moments that helped to make me the writer that I am but this is the one that stands out.

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  13. This was too good! First, I can't believe those girls wrote you that letter--like nasty????
    And then you had the courage to email your old teacher and have her read it?? Wow and then she says yes!! wow again!!

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  14. LOL! I'm such a brat. I've always known I could write--from way, way, way early on--i just never thought it'd be fun to be a writer! LOL! So even though lots of people complimented me and I received tons of A's I was like "Meh. Thanks." LOL! Except when my favorite author ever told me I should write a book after reading some of my emails--then it sparked a little something--I mean if Judith believed in me and she loved it... but honestly, it wasn't until the Lord inspired me to write with the way sneaky trick of not letting me sleep until I did, that i actually put all my writing abilities to use.

    Oh! and FYI: you need sleep to live! LOL! Jenni

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  15. Your inspirations are wonderful. I can't believe those sisters. That's hilarious. Good for you for defending yourself with such aplomb.

    I wish they had offered creative writing in my HS. I did take it in college and LOVED it. My professor was amazing and he was so encouraging and enthusiastic about my writing. He especially loved it when I wrote memoir stories. Sometimes I think that's what I should write, but who would want to read them if they don't know who I am?

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  16. Wow, those are great stories. I always wanted to write, and when I became a stay-at-home mom after my husband finished school I jumped into it.

    How long did it take you to write your first book? (The one you are getting ready to submit, I think.)

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  17. Nikki, that's a great story. Do you still have that report? It sounds like you've always been creative.

    Terri, at the time it was difficult, but I'm so over it. I laugh about it now. And I know, my teacher is awesome. I'm excited.

    Jenni, I still love to hear about how Judith encouraged you, what a great story. (and yes, you are a brat)

    Lotus, yeah, I guess I was lucky to have creative writing in high school. My teacher said they recently cut it from the curriculum and I was bummed to hear it.

    Jessie, actually, this is my 5th book (well, 6th if you count the one I co-authored with Jenni). And it took me about 2 and a half months to write this one.

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  18. I had creative writing in high school, but didn't like "assigned" reading or writing. If they said to do an essay on your favorite season, I wrote about ghosts.
    Then after school, life got in the way: single mom, homeowner, career woman, it took unemployment and getting knocked off my feet from a broken back to slow me down and get my creative juices flowing again. I've been unstoppable ever since.

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  19. I'm not really sure what inspired me to write. I've always enjoyed writing letters and poetry, but then one day I just decided I wanted to write novels. So I started and I love it!

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