People who have influenced my writing
Today's #CreativeSprint prompt suggests getting input from someone I respect: have them select a favorite from my past month of work, then refine it. I don't want to rehash an old list. So I asked my husband, whom I respect immensely, how I might twist the prompt. He suggested that I list people who have influenced my writing. Good one, baby.
- •Juanita TerpeningMy mom, who encouraged me to write from the time I was very young. She spent hours on end at the table with me, working on penmanship, spelling, practicing vocabulary, and diagramming sentences, so I would have the technical skills required of the writing craft. She bought me my first book of journaling prompts and kept me stocked with notebooks and pens, even when money was scarce. She nagged me relentlessly about deadlines, made time to proof moy work, and was always my biggest fan.
- •Phyllis KennedyMy first boss, post-college. She valued accuracy and was an exceptional editor and proofreader—helping me develop my technical skills far beyond what Mom and I achieved at the kitchen table. But the best gift she gave me was advice about conducting interviews. Preparing me to be a ghost writer for senior executives, she told me to consider my ignorance an asset. As long as I was curious and willing to ask "dumb" questions, I would get the story.
- •Anne LamottThe author whose writing about writing has most shaped and affirmed the way I write. "Bird by Bird" liberated me. I was already creating shitty first drafts; but Lamott's description of her own writing process showed me those drafts were not only okay, they could be transformed into truly good work.
- •Julia CameronThe creative teacher whose book, "The Artist's Way," has been a source of wisdom, refreshment, and motivation for me many times over. Cameron's prescription for morning pages and artist dates were exactly what I needed in order to discover my own voice and generate my own ideas. I turn to these practices regularly, because they work.
- •Natalie GoldbergSomehow I always imagine Goldberg and Cameron side by side. Probably because I read "Writing Down the Bones" around the same time I first read "The Artist's Way," and the books have long sat together on my shelf. From Goldberg, I received encouragement to write honestly and without fear—a lesson I am still trying to learn. I hear her urging me to write—to keep my hand moving—every day.
- •Dr. SuessThe first man in my love affair with rhyme.
- •Ogden NashMy first encounter with humorous poetry for grown-ups. I found a book of his poems on my parents' shelf when I was young. I read it cover to cover. Mom found out and was dismayed, because some of his content was more mature than she considered appropriate for me. But she didn't take the book away, so I kept reading it, time after time. "I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree. Indeed, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all."
- •Lewis Carroll"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" will always be my favorite book. Carroll's prose and poetry comfort and inspire me to play, to make a statement, to push past the obvious and find truth in what's weird.
- •Jill PollackMy business partner, collaborator, and dear friend. For 25 years, she's been interested in my writing and eager to share her writing with me. She kicks me in the ass when I'm not writing, challenges me to find new ways to connect with the page, and genuinely wants me to create, create, create. I am proud of the work we do together, and she motivates me to keep going.
- •Norma Fredrickson & Paul TerpeningMy sister and brother, whose artistry and craftsmanship astound me. We are all full-time artists now, making a living on our creativity. Once a month, we meet by videoconference for "Sibling Discovery"—an hour of discussion about our art, ideas, struggles, dreams, and disciplines. When I write something true or tough or touching, I feel their presence. Every time.
- •Jim NylandMy husband, whose relentless quest to learn and express himself inspires me to write, create, and communicate as well. In the relatively short time we have been a couple, I've been more prolific, experienced more breakthroughs, and discovered more reasons to write than ever before. He's a powerful muse.