If I had to choose one person who has influenced my writing the most (as compared to other individuals in my life, not necessarily compared to other influences and sources of inspiration)…
I’d choose my favorite high school Literature teacher. I know, I know. I’ve already rambled on about him in one of my last posts, but I honestly can’t think of anyone else who has influenced my writing more. For me, the problem with choosing the one person that has most influenced my writing is that most of my top “influencers” haven’t been people. If I think in the context of my creative writing, my influences include God, nature, emotions, my family, etc., but no specific people (unless you count dozens of book authors that I’ve never met…) So I literally sat there, staring at my computer screen for a good 15 minutes before I finally decided on my old lit teacher.
Even though I’ve gravitated towards the creative side of writing for my whole life, I’ve only relatively recently begun to actively pursue it (only in the last two years, really). In that time, there hasn’t been a certain, prominent figure that stands out in my mind as a big influence to me. So, knowing that, I looked even further back: to the foundations of my writing skills, in my latter years of middle school and throughout high school.
As I said last time, the foundation of my writing skills (which led to seriously pursuing creative writing) began then – when I was first learning the tedious grammar and structure of sentences, paragraphs and essays. It was then that I put in the immense amount of time and practice that resulted in the uncounted essays and writing assignments that gave me the necessary experience to pursue other types of writing that, of course, based themselves off of those skills. And throughout this whole process, this man, my favorite literature teacher, was the one who taught and critiqued my writing the most.
I remember the times when he would smile at me as I grew enthusiastic while we discussed an assignment or point of opinion that we differed on. He knew his was my favorite class, and he knew why – I simply loved words. I loved reading, I loved discussing our reading, I loved story, I loved philosophy – and though essays often piled up and made me scream in frustration, I couldn’t deny the pleasure I felt when I turned in a finished paper and got it back with a high mark. We both enjoyed discussing the fine points and individual mistakes in my papers because I also loved learning – and he could see that.
So, I choose him. He not only taught me how to write, he taught me how to think. Not only did he share my enthusiasm and love of words, he made it grow and mature into a passion and purpose. Not only did he teach and mentor me, much of the time, I felt as though he treated me as an equal – as if my opinion really mattered. I think that’s where my voice was born – because he listened.
And that, my friends, is the most important thing for a writer to have – a voice. Without it, we merely spin words into complex jumbles that can only turn out dull and flat and lifeless. With a voice, with a purpose and something to say, we breathe life and color into our work, no matter what it is.
I hope I didn’t bore you… But if you got to this point, then thank you for reading!