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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Teachers Who Draw Out Our Creative Souls

I've blogged here many times about the importance of being encouraging to others in their writing as well as stressing how many people have a hand in what we write, by virtue of the contact they have made with our lives.

I have been steadily reading devotionals from the book Daily Devotions For Writers, of which I am one of many contributing authors (see the link posted on the top left corner of the blog below my beloved Superstition Mountains). I am amazed at the number of people in this book who have been positively impacted by an instructor somewhere along the line, whether primary education or college level, who encouraged them in their writing. This is also borne out by many examples I have heard from other writers over the years, as well as my own experiences.

Teachers can have either a positive or negative impact. I have had both. I have had 2 math teachers, 1 in particular, who spoke such harsh, derogatory words to me in grade school that I have been traumatized for life and probably will never reach a level of understanding in math that might otherwise have been possible.

I have also had some of the greatest English teachers on the planet. Mrs. Seese, my 5th grade (?) English teacher is the first person I can recall who encouraged me in my writing. I've wanted many times over the years to write her and tell her how much I appreciated it, but I have no idea what her first name is or even whether she is still alive. Wherever she is, I hope she knows what a great impact she had on me - I got my first publication through her when I had my poem published in the county newspaper.

And the standout teacher for me was my English/Drama instructor in High School - Mr. Shaffer. Fortunately, I did write him a few years back and let him know how much I appreciated his teaching and influence during High School. The classes and drama productions I participated in under his leadership are the happiest memories I can think of throughout all my schooling years (my various American History professors run a distant second but are also very much appreciated - so thanks, Mr. Tillet).

I hope to be a life-long learner, and judging by the wonderful teachers who have already been sent my way up to now, I fully expect to be blessed by other instructors in my life when it comes to creative writing, whether through a formal classroom, an online writing program or with fellow crit partners.

I may never be a teacher in a formal sense, but I may have occasion to share what I've learned with others.

The bottom line is, as writers, we have an opportunity to encourage and influence others on their creative writing journey (or maybe some other art form). When I think of the horrible way that one math teacher made me feel and how it impacted my life; and when I think of Mr. Shaffer and Mrs. Seese and others who have sparked a love of creativity and a lifelong labor of love, I understand all too well that we can help or hurt others with what we say and do.

My prayer for myself and for any writer is that they would positively influence and encourage others in their creative pursuits. We live in an often viscious, competitive environment where the mantra is "every man for himself" but life's journey is so much better when we encourage each other to greater and greater levels.

That's my special prayer today.

1 comment:

Patti Shene said...

Brenda, this is a great tribute to teachers who have influenced your life. I think we have all had teachers who have discouraged us, but then things balanced out with the ones who spurred us on to great success. Thanks for sharing your memories!