So, while I was writing about Professor Dawe in my last post I started thinking about people who have influenced my writing, why they have, and how they have. I thought that I would list some people and explain. Without further ado and in no particular order:
- Gerald Dawe: As I have said before, this man single-handedly changed the way I write and look at writing through his advice and mentorship in my tiny poetry writing class. Besides the fact that my class was in the Burns Library (which is just amazing) it was a true community of writers, many of whom I am still in contact with. One of my favourite moments with him was when we were at the reception that was given in his honour and he literally made a poem about all of our class’ inside jokes and read it to all the assembled press, literatti, and academics. We, his students spent the whole time cracking up at the jokes and the joke that was the piece, everyone else took it seriously and glared at us while his eyes twinkled with laughter.
- Robert Kern: One of my favourite things about Kern’s class was that we would go outside, sit on the grass, and discuss poetry. It was literally a class where we got to talk about what we loved, done in a beautiful setting, by a man who is both passionate and quiet about the subject.
- Robert Stanton: He is the one that I had probably the most classes with. I took every class of his that I could. His focus is Medieval Literature, not writing, but he introduced me to some of the most beautiful and passionate writing in the English language. Plus, who doesn’t love a modern Canadian beat poet sort of person to whom you can sit down and talk about books, music, movies, and theatre for hours on end?
- Kim Garcia: (She was always Kim and never Professor Garcia) She, who would have us over for food and conversation in her writing loft of an attic, who was unfailingly honest about our writing, and who covered all types from poetry to short stories, to chapters out of longer works. Kim encouraged us to always rewrite (yes, just like Professor Dawe) and to be open to both criticism and praise for our writing. She shared her working space, her time, her cooking, and her thoughts with all of her students. She was always encouraging even when she was critical and always had some way in which we could improve. She herself, was amazing and would share her own works and works in progress with us.
- Tom Kaplan–Maxfield: Kap-Max was really rather madcap but his passion about the works we read in his class, even if I didn’t truly enjoy most of the works we read, was inspiring in and of itself. Kap-Max is one of those people you love or hate. I loved his class and the fact that he took time out to read a piece of mine even though it was a literature class and not a writing class, gave me some notes, and occassionally asked me how revisions were going, with an eager eye to reread what I had rewritten.
- Bonnie Rudner: She taught about young adult literature, heroes and heroines, like Superman was real and could be standing next to you. She made the books come to life. Hers is the only class I ever took at 9am and I took it because she was amazing. She can analyze a fairytale, a Disney tale, or a modern YA book with such flare and such amazing insight that she made me want to write more just to see what she would possibly say about me and my writing one day.
- Kid: I know that I have mentioned my ex-roomie any number of times, so if you’ve read my blog for any length of time you should know by now that she’s been a rather influential person and a good friend in my life. She is a writer and is, in fact, the person who gave me the writing lock-in for my 25th birthday. She is constantly writing. I was there when she shifted from writing mainly in her crazy-difficult-to-read handwriting (it was a skill I acquired eventually) to writing on her laptop. While we write about very different things, like very different books, and have completely different styles of novel writing it is incredibly inspiring to live with another writer.
- Gabe: He has been a friend of mine since I was fourteen. I literally got off the plane in CA, got into my Dad’s secretary’s truck and went to the church. There, I met Gabe and his mother in such quick succession that I don’t know whether he counts as the second or the third person I met on the day I moved to Cali). I’m not sure how to explain our friendship excepting for the fact that we’re rather similar souls. We’ve both done theatre most of our lives (he made it to Broadway and I was thrilled to see him on stage there, I on the other hand, teach). We’re both rather musical people. We’re constantly seeking to improve ourselves. We’re both incredibly animated and get rather into our conversations. I tend to think we bring out the best in each other in a lot of ways because somehow I always come away feeling encouraged after talking to him and he’s told me much the same thing in conversation. (Mayhaps I should learn to tell him the same). He never fails to ask me about my writing (among also asking about art, theatre, dance, students, teaching, etc) and has offered so many times to read my novels that I’m almost ashamed I have never sent them to him because I never feel that they are done. (My goal this year is to actually finish editing the first one before New Year’s 2010 and I think I’ll send him a copy to read along with publishers because the poor man has been asking about it since I thought of him as a boy). We’ve known each other 12 years and that’s a long time to wait on something.
- Victoria Wittner: She was my friend in 8th grade, actually one of my only friends that spoke English as a first language, when I was writing an 800 page handwritten novel in under 3 months. She read the first part of the first draft, told me she thought it should be published then and there, and is still the only person to have read any of it. She was super encouraging and asked me about it constantly that year.
- Uncle Mike: While he is a touch on the odd side and I sometimes wonder what is going on in his head, my Uncle Mike has been unfailingly encouraging with my writing. He paid for my subscription to Writer’s Digest for years, sent me books on writers’ markets, and always sent along pens and notebooks along with art supplies.
- My Family: My father, mother, brother, and two sisters have always encouraged me in what I do even though I don’t think any of them have ever read anything I’ve written that was not for a school assignment. They don’t particularly care about my writing but they care about me and they know that it makes me happy so they will buy me an endless supply of books, art supplies, photography accoutrement, and notebooks. My mother has suggested that I make time to write for a magazine, which I think I will do one day as I think that it’s an interesting concept. My father doesn’t particularly care for the spec fic genre at this point because he says that there are more important things and that he thinks that I could write true to life things that would have a “genuine impact” on people (which I probably could but I think that it is premature to write a memoir at 25 when I have so much more to learn). I think though that he underestimates the genre. More and more people are reaching for it because they need both an escape and someone to relate to. Fiction is like a cannon shot from a pirate ship, from far away the change it creates seems insignificant but when you get up close, it is major. Non-fiction is like an arrow shot from a bow, from far away there is no change and when you get up close it is pinpointed. Both are valid, but for now I prefer to make an explosive mess and see what comes of it.
- Jon: How to describe Jon…I don’t rightly know. He’s my brother but not. We just kinda fit together as friends, he’s one of those people that I don’t really know how we became friends, I just know that I’m lucky he is my friend because he has seen me through some of the roughest parts of my life. He’s the only person outside of my writing classes and my high school Mandala/Theatre friends to have ever read some of my song lyrics and poetry. He’s also the only person to have read the entries of a specific notebook (even though he didn’t ask at the time I don’t have a problem that he did, which is odd because I would throttle anyone else for reading something of mine without permission).
- All of my Sacred Heart School teachers: They really worked hard to instill a love of reading, writing, and the arts in all of their students. However, when I showed a particular love for all of the above they made a point to really help me develop with those every year. They got me special books, gave me art supplies, let me read like a fiend in the back of the class. They encouraged me in every way possible.
- The Writers of OWWW: These are the people in my online writing group who are serious authors and critique-rs. We are generally a little harsh and often incredibly perfectionist-y. I have been a member for over 7 years now and I adore the group even if I have been a slacker of late.
Santa Margarita People
- Mandala folk: Mandala was the literary magazine at my school. We brought in poets and authors to the school. We sat around and talked about writing and art. We did writing and art together. We judged writing and art together. It was my first-ever community of artists and writers. In this group there were some particularly helpful people: Mandy and Lee (same as in Talon Theatre folk), Koenig, Tina, Kate, Katie, Kris, Chris, Nit Whit (who was also one of my Freshie Techie Children), Liza, Cole, and Mollee (our advisor and my senior English teacher).
- Talon Theatre folk: This was the theatre company at my high school and we were just a little on the nutty side. There were tons of writers and artists amongst them. Some actors who are making their way in the world as actors. Some, whom people who keep up with popculture would recognise. We supported each other in everything we did, even when people got too dramatic for their own good and got to fighting. For me, the people who especially helped were: Mandy and Lee (who are now married), Jenny, Re, Ryan, Mark, Amanda, Justin, Greg, Tom, Jack, Jorge (who doesn’t remember me anymore thanks to a head injury), Colin, my Freshie Techie Children, Marcus, Courtney, Megan, and Stube (our advisor the last couple of years).
- Lindsay: She wasn’t ever really a part of any of the aforementioned groups like the rest of us, but she was our Mandala and Theatre groupie and we were attached at the hip in high school to the point where Kevin gave a speech about us as the epitome of friendship and a demonstration of friend-love. This girl has put up with more insanity from me and my writing than probably anyone else over the years. She has sat there and literally listened to me whine, moan, bitch and complain about my characters and how obnoxious they can be when they don’t want to tell me their stories. She actually somewhat understands my writing process (or lack thereof) better than just about anyone because she’s listened to me go on and on since high school. She even participates int he insanity on a regular basis and we’ve come up with superheroes and alien abductions and all sorts of stories that I should write down officially and sell as a collection of stories by two friends. (Wow, that’s actually a valid idea…mental note: talk to Linds about A Collection of Stories by Two Friends).
- Lauren: She and I were great friends all through high school and the poor thing sat there and listened to me try to summarise something like 3000 pages into something that makes sense in 5 minutes more times than I think God ever intended any human being to do. She read some of my poetry and short stories and gave me her honest opinions. I have to say, what I valued most about our friendship was the honesty that was always there. She is one of the people that I miss now that she has gotten married, moved away, and we’ve lost contact. She is an amazing person.
- Gregory Rhodes: This man is quite simply an inspiration. He has always been supportive of everything I have written or done. He is one of the most encouraging people I have ever met and has become a family friend over the years. While I’m glad that he’s happy and enjoying cherries I am sorry to say that Santa Margarita is a poorer school because he was fired. By the time I left his class I could write any type of essay in my sleep. He was exacting in his standards but always there to help. Students would line up out the door and down the hallway to get his help on their writing. He was and will always be one of my favourite teachers of all time.
- Doc: I can’t describe Doc really. He is unlike anyone else I know. He is lovingly insulting, half-crazy, and wholly amazing. He mocked me, sat me on a stool with a projector in my eyes for months, still calls me a heathen, and 100% considered me one of “Doc’s Kids” in high school. His speech on at Kairos was amazing. He made me cry when he was actually sweet with none of the joking. He was always there for me, no matter what I needed and always encouraged me to do the best I could at everything. He is another one that I believe Santa Margarita is poorer without and is my other favourite teacher of all time.
Anybody else notice how many of these people are teachers? I hope that I have an impact on my students like this because it is making life-long learners of my students that is truly my goal. I want to show them the passion that I have for what I do and in doing so, inspire them to pursue their own passions.