Once in a while, a person speaks some words which stay with us. Maybe it was praise, or maybe it was tough love. I'd like share some of the quintessential moments in writing when a person cared enough to point me the right way.
Think about some of your own moments when someone reached out to you and inspired you. It doesn't have to be about writing. It can be about life in general. Feel free to share in the comments.
Whatever you do in life, I hope you make a place for writing.
--9th Grade English Teacher, 1984
The first person who seriously encouraged me to write. His enthusiasm was strong and infectious. I owe a great deal to him.
The writing feels like it came out of a meat grinder. It's all the same.
--College English Professor, 1988
The first direct, blunt, and undeniably correct criticism I received. He taught me that stories are more than mere communication. Magic happens when the language itself has wings, when you strive to say things in new ways.
Do you want me to do this?
--A friend uncomfortable with my reaction to a critique of my first novel, 2001
I learned that there are two people responsible for a critique. The one giving it should be firm and honest, yet positive. The one receiving it should fight the urge to be defensive, hurt, or depressed.
You should read Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing by David Morrell.
--Agent rejecting my first novel, 2004
Another moment when I learned I had wandered astray. This time, it was about losing touch with the action, being self-indulgent, and allowing the reader to yawn.
I already don't want to read any more.
--My wife reacting to over-description in an opening paragraph, 2006.
Over-description is the opposite side of the "meat grinder" issue above. Vivid description is like adding spoonfuls of sugar to your coffee. Too much is disgusting.
You're a master of description.
--Internet friend and author, 2006
After all the care and hard work, its nice to see some things finally working. However, the process of growth never ends.
Hats off to those who inspire us. Their nudges become the path of our lives.