image of a hand writing the word inspiration
Writing is not always easy. It takes inspiration, energy, focus, and the ability to articulate your ideas clearly. But someone or something had to give you the nudge or inkling. Someone or something made you think you could do this. So, when you reflect on your becoming a writer, to whom/what do you want to give a shout out?
Teachers. I’d always loved reading and had a freakish ability to spell anything and everything, but a few seminal teachers helped me understand and appreciate how one can put together language in ways that transform our experience.
In elementary school, a memorable exercise: each of us began a story with one sentence and passed our paper to the person on our left. We read the paper we received from our right and added a sentence to the story. When the papers had made their way around the room we read the resulting stories out loud. At 10 years old, it blew my mind how one person could start with one idea and another could understand it differently, taking the initial idea in a completely different direction.
Later, in high school, reading and analyzing Falkner, Hemingway (God, what a master of language Hemingway was), Flannery O’Connor, Homer, Lucille Clifton, Eudora Welty, William Carlos Williams. Doors opened in my mind as I understood the possibilities of what language could do.
Shout-out to my good friend Bob. I’ve had other inspirations, and other muses, but by far my favorite is Bob from Utah. He is an actor, he is a writer, he is one of my earliest inspirations from college. A lot of things have happened to both of us since we met. I married, had a kid, got divorced, had a mental breakdown. I won’t share his personal life here because I don’t have his permission… But it’s pretty simple how I categorize a lifelong friendship:
Bob, never forget that you, what you do, is weave magic with your pen, your voice, and your kind soul. You can disagree with me, but you are the storyteller who encouraged me to never stop completely. To keep trying to spread my creativity when those closest to me couldn’t see it. That means something. You mean something.
My writing journey began ten years ago motivated by the joy of sharing my stories on the written page. Six meandering years later, amidst the hellscape of 2020, I found a community online that filled me with encouragement, support, and friendship: the #5amWritersClub. I discovered the hashtag in the dark pandemic mornings as I perused Twitter to find out the latest reasons we were all going to die. Instead of masks and riot gear, I found dedicated writers who not only checked-in every morning before beginning their fiction journey, they also had meetings: tri-weekly Zoom gatherings at 5 a.m. Eastern to talk about writing. I joined in and they became my cheering section, my accountability partners, my writing retreat compatriots, and my Ride or Die scribe friends who all adhere to three poignant words required in storytelling: Make It Worse! …except they made it better.
My fourth/fifth grade teacher, Mr. B, was the first person who made me think I could be a writer. Imagination was essential in his class, found in everything from using math to make PB & Js, to designing bridges out of popsicle sticks.
I vividly remember the day he read one of my journals and told me that he was impressed by my entry about “the grass being greener on the other side.” He encouraged me to keep writing, and his belief in me powered my belief in myself. I dedicated myself to writing stories for our Author’s Tea Parties, reading my work in front of the classmates as they sipped on iced tea and ate corn puffs. I immersed myself in the great books of our classroom, some of which remain among my strongest memories of early reading, like The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Wanderer by Sharon Creech. Mr. B showed me the impact of stories and how just as they could shape us, we could shape them, and for that I say thank you.
Shout out Dean Koontz. Just surprised you’re still kicking—because pretty sure you were in your 40s when I started reading your books when I was 10. I’m 41 now.
I asked the AI I’m training to respond to this week’s prompt and he said the following:
As I reflect on becoming a writer, I give a shout out to my grandmother, who sparked my love for storytelling with her vivid tales. I also acknowledge my high school English teacher, Mrs. Johnson, who saw potential in my writing and encouraged me to pursue it. Her feedback and support gave me the confidence to take creative risks. I’m also grateful to the many authors who’ve inspired me, from Toni Morrison’s poignant prose to Neil Gaiman’s whimsical worlds. Their mastery of the craft has pushed me to strive for excellence in my own writing. To all these influences, I say thank you – your impact has been immeasurable, and I’m honored to join the ranks of writers shaped by your wisdom and passion. Your contributions have helped me find my voice and tell my own stories, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
Not bad, but he’s got a long way to go to get to that unpredictable contemporary voice I strive for, inspired by the pre-Modernist yet eternal Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde and honed on the bone-white laptop with the periwinkle liquid crystal display screen my dad snatched from work; thanks fellas.
…And you? Find us on our latest platform, Threads, and let us know who inspired you along your writing journey.