Other than the fact that I live, eat, sleep, and dream about books and can't imagine a life without writing, I am a writer because of the people I've encountered in my life. I can thank my parents for being the first to introduce me to the wonderful world of the written word. They read to me every night. Lots of kid books, but other things, too. My Dad used to read me the original fairy tales and the poems of Robert Service. He never limited me to books that were "appropriate" for my age. Three of my favorite stories from childhood are "The Red Shoes", "Ice Worm Cocktail", and "The Cremation of Sam McGee". Dark? Yes. Incredible imagery and writing? Yes. Behold the foundation of my writing.
My next influence came in second grade. My teacher, Mrs. McGee, always encouraged my reading, which was above my age level. I won a contest for reading the most books, and she bought me Ramona and Her Father as my prize. I still have the book. I appreciate her because I had other teachers who wouldn't encourage me. I was stuck reading what everyone else was reading, and I was bored. Mrs. McGee understood how important books were to me. She also had us write and make our own books. My first books were written for that project, and I never stopped (at least not for long).
High school was when I needed the most encouragement, and I found it. My freshman English teacher, Ms. Murphy, was wonderful. We read Shakespeare and West Side Story, combining my love of literature and theatre. I was in a bad place at that time, and writing and reading kept me grounded. She continued to support my creative endeavours all through high school, and she presented me with an award at graduation after I had written and directed my first play.
My other big influence in high school was my sophomore English teacher, Mr. Reigleman. He also acted in my first show. He had a huge influence on my writing and on my confidence as a writer. We had a project that involved writing three different styles of essays on a single topic. He asked me if he could use mine as an example when he presented the project to his colleagues. I don't think he knows how much of an influence that had on me. I suddenly realized that I was a decent writer, and I started to think about how I could make writing my life.
Would I still be a writer without these people? Probably not.
There's one other person who has influenced my choice of career greatly (as well as my entire life) - my husband. He believed in me when I finally started writing again after taking several years off during and after college. He supported my dream of being a writer and still does every day. He made me realize that I could be a writer as a profession and that I didn't have to have a job that I hated. He's still my biggest supporter and believes in me more than I believe in myself. He's the best.
I don't know how many of these people will see this, but if they do, I want to say thank you. Life is incredible, and it's because I dared to follow a dream. I wouldn't be here without any of them.
Em is a writer, theatre director, and hiker. She likes mixing horror with magical realism and adding sci-fi twist.