Open Mic Blog

Who inspired you?!

Posted on June 23, 2010 at 7:28 AM

 c 2010


Who or what inspired you to become a writer or a teacher of writing (or both!) and changed your life forever?


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Reply Eddy
8:20 AM on June 23, 2010 
Much as I loved to read, it never occurred to me as a child that authors were just people. When I was in fifth or sixth grade, one of the girls in my class wrote stories. Ellen wrote page after page of adventures about kids in our class, and the teacher let her read them aloud to us. We loved her stories!. But I didn't think of her as a real writer or somebody who could become one. We lived in Pikeville, KY
Reply Larry Smith
9:40 AM on June 23, 2010 
I've thought about this at times when my students were taking a test or when I sit back from a day of writing....As a working-class kid, I began to open my eyes to the world of writing in 8th grade English classes where the teacher, Mrs. Merzi, actually expected us to write poems. Then in high school I came upon Sinclair Lewis's MAIN STREET novel and thought..."You can write books like this!" From then on it was one writer after another...I also wrote home to my girl friend about every day while I was in college and so began to informally learn the craft of words.
Reply Eliot
12:16 PM on June 23, 2010 
My high school English teacher senior year, Mr. Petry, inspired me to become a teacher of writing. He was so knowledgable about writing and so passionate about it. Everyone in my class became passionate about writing thanks to his excitement. He always had a kind word about everything we wrote and he always encouraged us to keep writing and to keep improving as writers. I learned so much from him and I became a writing teacher because of him. I always try and maintain a passion for writing with my students now at MCTC.
Reply Meghan
2:27 PM on June 23, 2010 
I really cannot think of a single person who inspired me to write. I feel that I am still growing and learning new things everyday. I love our writing groups...these are so benefical to me.
Reply Kristen
5:08 PM on June 23, 2010 
I came to the teaching profession because I loved literature, not so much b/c of writing. One of my high school teachers, Ms. Lester, inspired me to a love of literature beyond children't books and teen romantic fiction. I credit her with my first inspiration to teach. I don't really feel like a writer yet, but I look forward to the experiences SI has planned to help me on my journey to feeling like one.
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
10:07 PM on June 23, 2010 
I was inspired to teach years ago by a dynamic and highly creative lead teacher, Catherine Cummings, at Huntington High School.

As a child, I never thought twice about who wrote a book. I just loved to read and got caught up in the stories.

I have many people who inspired me to write from Cynthia Rylant to Ray Bradbury. And of course, my friends, especially Eddy Pendarvis and The Rogues. There's a lot more, but I'll stop there for now.
Reply Colleen
3:29 PM on June 24, 2010 
Ken Macrorie. I still use his books about writing, and cherish the memory of every on of his classes at Western Michigan University in the 1970s.
Reply Regina Robinson
2:31 PM on June 25, 2010 
Hi laura, I neither condonsider myself as a writer or a person who teaches writing. I consider myself as a person who helps students become better writers.
Reply Candice
10:02 PM on June 30, 2010 
I always wanted to be a teacher and always loved writing. As crazy as it seems, I did have a Spanish teacher who encouraged me when I used to write poetry in high school. My poems were in English, but she enjoyed them anyway.
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
4:09 PM on July 4, 2010 
Thanks, Colleen. I Googled Ken Macrorie and found this wonderful interview with him:

Which of his books do you treasure the most?
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
4:11 PM on July 4, 2010 
Candice, I love that your high school Spanish teacher encouraged you to write poetry. Talk about Writing Across the Curriculum!
Reply Paul W. Hankins
9:53 AM on July 14, 2010 
I have always enjoyed putting words to page, but the writing actually comes out of my grandfather's storytelling. I don't know that he ever wrote anything down, but his talent for the oral tradition made me want to be a storyteller too. . .
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
10:26 AM on July 14, 2010 
Welcome, Paul!

Your grandfather left you a wonderful legacy. I think inspiration might begin with these simple words: "Tell me a story."
Reply Casey Daugherty
10:28 AM on July 14, 2010 
My 2nd grade teacher let me write a short story, "The Dragon in My Garden", and sent a letter home to my parents about me being a writer. I was hooked. I'm 30 years now into diaries, journals, and blog posts.

Writing gave me a new insight to its value when I started reading my mother's daily journal entries a few years ago, (she passed away 25 years earlier) and I noticed my own writing began to change with it. So did my motivation to write.

Although I never felt stifled as a writer during high school and college, I'm not sure I was ever able to explore my writing thoroughly, and I know I wasn't able to develop myself as a writing teacher until I learned to understand my own processing at the Greater Kansas City Writing Project in 2002.

There's an article floating around on Twitter right now from the New York Times about re-connecting with teachers on Facebook. I can't visit with my 2nd grade teacher anymore, but I'm blessed with teaching during the age of Facebook and just last week a former student posted a compliment on my wall to how I inspired her writing. Fortunately, I get to say back, "it was you, and all your classmates, who continue to inspire my own writing and being a writing teacher." This constant connection and re-connection continues to pull me toward writing and its value in my life.
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
11:06 AM on July 14, 2010 
Your journey is beautiful and moving, Casey.

Great teachers, reflection, and the synergy created between teachers and students are inspiring. Your words ring true: "This constant connection and re-connection continues to pull me toward writing and its value in my life."
Reply Kevin Hodgson
1:43 PM on July 14, 2010 
I don't remember having a specific teacher who saw the writer in me, unfortunately. Mostly, they would not allow creative writing, which is what I was interested in. I guess my inspiration was my mom, who was not a writer but a reader, and she shared her books and encouraged me to read what I wanted. It was that love of reading that sparked the love of writing in me, and in the back of my teenage mind, I had this idea that I could become a writer. It took many years and a lot of inner vision to see that the things I was doing on my own was really writing all along. That was an amazing personal discovery.

Reply Paul Oh
1:45 PM on July 14, 2010 
I don't believe any one person inspired me to write. But I do have a distinct memory of showing my mom a piece of paper while she was in the bathroom getting ready for work. I must have been 5 or 6. The paper was full of my scribbles - child-like attempts at cursive. Despite her busy-ness, my mom took time to pick out the accidental humps of w's and m's and probably a few other unintended letters. I was amazed. I had scribbled something and it actually had meaning for another person. I understood then the power of writing.
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
2:17 PM on July 14, 2010 

Fast response! I'm more like Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451.

I, too, wasn't rewarded for creative writing in school. It was a time filler with no grade in high school English, but I loved doing it anyway.

It's fascinating to hear how your mom encouraged the reader in you: "It was that love of reading that sparked the love of writing in me, and in the back of my teenage mind, I had this idea that I could become a writer."

I am happy that after many years of "inner vision" you discovered that you were " . . . really writing all along."
Reply Fred Mindlin
2:24 PM on July 14, 2010 
I had a wonderful elementary school experience, at a private progressive school in LA started by Hollywood lefties, and we were all treated as writers there from our first literacy experiences. My junior high school English teacher, Don Wright, really cemented this self-identity by encouraging me to create my "career notebook" on becoming a writer, even though I was ambivalent about the choice. I got to interview Ray Bradbury, who described how he moved to NYC, sold papers to pay for renting a room, and resolved to write and submit a story every week regardless of anything else. It took him over a year of rejections, but he finally started getting his stories accepted for publication.
Reply Laura Treacy Bentley
2:34 PM on July 14, 2010 

Ditto on response time!

I love that you "understood the power of writing" at such a tender age. Establishing a window, a connection, between you and a reader makes writing meaningful and memorable. And, amazing.