Last March I made a trip to Wichita, KS for my cousin's 90th birthday. On the way home, I was struck by the number of trees in the fields lining I-35 through Oklahoma that had been broken by the heavy snows the region suffered that winter. These limbs were scattered and strewn, sometimes almost as if by pattern and other times as if tossed into the wind by a giant hand. Tops of trees were lopped off, looking like an artificial Christmas tree without the tip third. There was a stretch that had my imagination running to thoughts of giants -- or giant alien machines -- walking through the area, smashing the trees like insignificant bugs.
I made the trip to Wichita again Friday, returning home last night. This time it was for my cousin's funeral. She fell at home last week and broke her hip. Of course, being my cousin and an ever practical person, after she fell, she lay there for awhile. Then, knowing she might not be back to the house for awhile, she managed to get to the bathroom where she put on lipstick, brushed her hair and then "did a little pick up" of the house -- all before calling for help.
As I sat in church yesterday morning listening to her priest give one of the most personal eulogies I've heard in a long time, I couldn't help but think about how much Clarice inspired me. I blogged about it some earlier this week at the Naked Truth, but it goes so much further. Clarice was a woman who always seemed to know what your deepest desire was and encouraged you -- either to have the strength to pursue it or the discipline to give it up if it was something you shouldn't be doing. When she realized I wanted to write, and she did so long before I really knew it, I was told about my great-great-grandfather who edited newspapers in Colorado and Kansas. There was my great-uncle Jack who was the youngest linotype operator in the country. And it went on from there. When I finally admitted I was writing, Clarice dug out one of her most prized possessions and gave it to me -- her father's play, typed painstakingly on an old standard typewriter in the 1930's. She never let me give it back, telling me to keep it and pass it on when it would help someone else.
So, coming home down I-35 yesterday, seeing some of those same trees I'd blogged about here back in March, I once more started thinking about those who have been there for us, encouraging us even when we've been afraid to tell people we're -- gasp -- writers. Clarice was always my first cheerleader, always there to listen and encourage. But there have been others over the years. Mrs. Winslow, my seventh grade English teacher who, much to my horror, not only realized I was writing fanfic but read it and encouraged me to keep writing, but to find something better to write about than that "awful Dark Shadows". There was the neighbor up the street who walked in one day to find me on day three of a week-long writing jag and demanded to see what I was doing. Then she demanded to read pages as soon as they came off the printer. All I can say is she was either desperate for something to read or a very good friend or both because the so-called novels she read are forever destined to under my bed...they'd be destined for the bonfire except Sarah has threatened to hurt me if I burn anything else I've written. Sigh.
There are others, of course. Poor Kate who gets to read stuff as it is written, mistakes and all, and who hasn't run screaming into the night. At least, if she has, she hasn't told me. There's Dave who is always there with an ear to listen and an encouraging word. I try not to bother him because, well, in my mind it is more important for him to write and feed my need for his books than to spend time holding my hand when I start doubting myself.
I can't end this post without mentioning Sarah who, with her pointy boots and threats to employ them to certain parts of my anatomy, won't let me quit writing even when I most want to. Not that it happens often or last long. It's Sarah who prods me into submitting and who will always tell me the truth, no matter how much it hurts, about my writing.
Okay, this turned into more of an emo post than I meant. Sorry. I promise to return to my prickly self next week. In the meantime, who has served as inspiration and support for you as you've gone down the path to becoming a writer? Have you had the opportunity to return the favor to someone?