Monday, March 24, 2014

On Giants' Shoulders..



"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."


- Sir Isaac Newton



Writing, by nature, is a solitary action. It's just the writer and a keyboard and screen (or pen and notepad). But as you'll see, for a vast majority of writers out there, you will be a better writer if you do not take the entire journey alone. Thankfully, my journey did not begin alone.

At Glen Rock High School (over two decades ago, *gasp*!), I was inspired by two English Teachers: Mrs. Linda Rossi and Mrs. Linda Tomas. I know I was a class clown and probably gave Mrs. Rossi migraines daily. I'd like to think I matured when I reached Mrs. Tomas, but the jury's still out on that one (and they've been deliberating for two decades.) Regardless, I know I wasn't dedicated to writing, but they planted the seed in my head. I learned to read often, and appreciated what I was reading. I'm sorry if I was a nuisance.

I figured those things you gave me were just pills to calm me down or shut me up, but they were seeds; thank you for planting them.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself at William Paterson University sitting in as a timid underclassman in Dr. Corri Wells's Creative Writing class (she always wanted us to call her Corri.) It was during her courses that I learned how to write, and that I could write, and even write well on occasion (as I often say, even the blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.)

And to this day, a few hundred thousand words later, I can proudly say my favorite (and probably best) short story was written in Corri's class. Although the story, "There She Goes" now renamed  "Slip Slidin' Away" is still collecting rejection letters, many are personalized rejections from prestigious literary journals. I'm confident the story will find a home some day soon (and until then, I'm blaming the risque plot as the reason they "loved the story, but it's not a good fit for us.") 
Thank you, Corri for watering the seeds. They sprouted.

Then I took about 8 years off, until I found myself unemployed, broke and bored. I still read frequently (a free hobby), and found myself with time and a few stories that had been simmering in my mind since college. So I joined meetup.com and found a writers group (writing is free! Don't blame me, I was broke, and I'm Dutch). ::ENTER John Adamus::

John ran the North Jersey Writers Group, based out of the Barnes & Noble in Paramus. Every week or so he would host small critique groups or give us lectures on various elements of writing (you'll see me referencing his work often in the future.) Anyways, John must have seen something in me, as he immediately "took me under his wing" (I haven't posted my topic on Avoiding Cliches like the Plague yet, so this one's allowed) and mentored me. And mentored me hard. I'd text him with a question, and he'd devote hours of his time with a detailed phone discussion or email response.

"John, why is internal dialogue sometimes italicized but not always..." - silly stuff like that. If he didn't know the answer, he'd research it, ask colleagues, anything, everything. John would go out of his way to give me the best possible answer he could, and provide me with detailed comments and analysis on every story submission I'd make (and these questions and stories were frequent.) John is one of the truest, most generous men I know. And I would not be anywhere close to where I am today, with out his mentoring and friendship.Thank you John. It took longer than both of us expected, but doot's a bloomin'!

The most important advice I can offer to my readers and fellow writers is this: don't do it alone. Find fellow writers, companions, future friends, people in the same boat as you to share your highs and woes. Follow this blog. Ask questions. Make comments. Let others help you along the way.

If I can inspire or teach any one future or current writer out there the way my Rushmore of Mentors (Mrs. Rossi, Mrs. Tomas, Corri, and John) have taught me, this blog will be worth the time and effort.
You four are giants to me; and the view is grand.

Thank you. Sincerely. Thank You.





"At the end of every road lies a path."
- from a fortune cookie read to us in class by Corri circa 2001?

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for thanking your teachers! I have to do the same for Father Steve, Mr. Gutt, and Ms. Zarr.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is my first time on here. Great job; love the site. Thank you so much for the advice you gave me on my novel draft. I think that kind of timely encouragement, went a long way to helping me to finish that re-write.

    ReplyDelete