Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Mentors

My Mentors

My first mentor was Grandfather Patterson who read stories to me, wrote letters to editors and typed up all the stories I made up before I learned the art of putting words on paper. He helped me appreciate my first rejection slips telling me they showed I had written something and sent it out which was what professional writers do.

My Grandmother Brown was another Mantor. When I was 12 years old, she called me aside and said, “ I want you to help me tell my life story for all my children and grandchildren.” Grandmother described her growing years, meeting grandpa, getting married, having children, going from olden days to modern days. She had a gift of being sensual, making you smell the lilacs, feel the thorns, seeing the waterfalls, hear the horses, feel the udders milking the cows.

I always loved to read and from William Faulkner I learned to create pictures with my words, to find the exact word to describe an object or thought.

From Ernest Hemmingway I learned to share the most important facts with my reader while having a mountain of facts hidden from the reader but in my head and heart supporting the information I shared in the writing. I saw my work as an iceberg with the essential on top but the majority of the work underneath, hidden but supporting the top.

My next mentor was Mrs. Freshour my next-door neighbor and English teacher at school. She taught me to love reading good literature and when I was chosen to give the Valedictorian speech she helped me learn to do research and how to use it effectively.

When I met Anais Nin, she told me of friends from all walks of life from travels around the world, her love of life, her sensitivity, her commitment to her work. I always answer every letter I receive. Her compassion and passion.

My spiritual mentor was Mother Teresa. I was blessed with spending time with her and Anais Nin. The most important thing she taught me about writing was if you write about her work, you must commit yourself to doing the work, no matter how dirty you get your hands. You cannot write about poverty unless you live with the poor. I became a coworker and she gave me permission to write . Mother Teresa, Called to Love and What Mother Teresa Taught Me which was published by St Anthony Messenger Press and in Arabic by an Egyptian publisher.

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