Who's Impacted You?

Sunday, December 17, 2017
Chris Rosati died on October 18. He was 46 and chose the day he died. He'd been battling ALS since 2010, and when a trach tube took away his ability to talk, he decided on getting the tube removed. He died hours later.

Chris dreamed of stealing a Krispy Kreme truck and dropping off doughnuts at schools and nursing homes. He figured if he got arrested, with his ALS, what would they do to him? Thankfully, Krispy Kreme gave him a truckload of doughnuts, so he didn't have to resort to a life of crime.

What he did resort to, however, was making a difference. He's responsible for inspiring children to begin BIGG projects--Big Ideas for the Greater Good. Rosati said, "If I can't impact people, then this whole thing is a waste."

That got me thinking. Who has impacted my life? Specifically (since this is a site devoted to writing), who's impacted my writing life?

  • My family--Going back to my middle school and high school years, my parents and grandparents saved all the articles I wrote for the school newspaper. Their pride gave me encouragement when I was just starting out. I still remember one year, I was 13 and sick (barfing and feverish sick) but I begged my dad to drive me to a local journalism competition so I could enter the contest. He did, and waited for me there. As soon as I finished writing, he drove me home. (I got an honorable mention.)
  • A few English teachers (Mr. Miya. Mr. Gates and Mrs. Wright)--One of them let me do "independent study" for a year (reading and journal-writing) and one taught me self-discipline when it comes to research and organizing.  One taught me to write without parameters. One taught me to not skimp when doing the necessary grunt work.They were high school teachers. Before them, there was Mr. Miya in 7th grade. He made me fall in love with poetry (via CSN & Y and Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell and Carole King and Don McClean lyrics). He also inspired the tattoo that now encircles my wrist:
                                                        Legalize freedom.
  • My writing critique group--These ladies have told me (in nice ways) when my writing sucks, along with when my ending's abrupt, when my beginning has no hook, when I start to ramble. They provide invaluable assistance. They're also generous with praise (when my writing warrants it) and resources.
  • Local and Out-of-Town Blogging Friends--Being able to get nudged by writing friends keeps me honest. Recently I had lunch with some writers, and over lunch, each of us shared what we were currently working on. There was no hiding behind excuses and made-up stuff. What was I truly working on? What was I procrastinating about?
  • My friends and family (or at least some of my family members)--My daughter has a row of Chicken Soup for the Soul books on her bookshelf (because she's proud of the stories I've gotten published). My son says, "That's great," when I get something accepted, and I get an embrace from the best hugger I know. (CS books are not even close to his thing.) I have a few friends who are not writers; one summer, the teachers I taught threw me a "book signing" party, complete with a photo session. I felt like I was Margaret Atwood. My husband is even less interested in my stories than my son. All he does is check where my story falls in the anthology. (In his addled mind, the stories in the front are the better pieces.)

      Who has impacted your writing the most? 

       Last weekend, writing this post made me look up Mr. Gates. Through whitepages.com, I found a Greg Gates the right age, in St. Charles. I drove over, knocked on the door, and told his wife I was looking for Greg Gates who used to teach at Hazelwood West. She called back into the house, "Greg, there's a former student to see you." In an instant, over forty years were cast aside.

      How about it? How about writing a letter or telling someone in person how they've impacted your writing? It might just make their day (and yours).

Sioux is a now a teacher because of Mr. Miya, Mr. Gates and Mrs. Wright. She is also a dog rescuer for Love a Golden, and is a freelance writer. You can read more of her musings by checking out her blog.


Margo Dill said...

WOW! Sioux, that is unbelievable that you went to your teacher's house. This is definitely a do as I do and as I say kind of post!

You always hear stories like that but never know anyone who has actually done it. Now I do.

I think my writing has been most impacted by my critique groups over the year and definitely working here at WOW!

Mary Horner said...

Love the idea of paying homage to the teachers/others who have inspired you. But what a cliffhanger! I want to hear about your conversation with Mr. Gates in your next post!

Renee Roberson said...

I wish I could look up some of my old English teachers! There is one, Ms. Eury, who asked me to acknowledge her in my first book. I still remember that, although I think she remarried at some point so her name probably changed! She was also the woman who put in a call to my first-choice college that didn't end up accepting me. I remember sitting in the guidance counselor's office with her--she was furious. Of course, it had to do with my math and science grades not being high enough but I'll never forget the effort she made to get answers for me. And I had a Pulitzer-prize-winning communications professor in college who made me the bloodhound wanna-be crime writer I am today.

Angela Mackintosh said...

This is awesome, Sioux!! The teacher who impacted me the most was Mrs Lischerelli, my art teacher, who gave me the gold medal in art at my high school. She also bought me tickets to a real runway fashion show because I was so into fashion design in high school. She believed in me, that I would do something great in the arts, and she was the only person besides my friends who encouraged my creative pursuits when I was a teen. You've inspired me to look her up. :)

I also had an English teacher, Mr Wixon, who thought I was a talented writer. He often read my work to the class and encouraged my creativity. But I think the WOW community and instructors have encouraged me the most. Thanks, ladies!!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Yes, I owe sooo much to my critique group.

I do these kinds of things because I'm not worried if they flop. I just wanted to tell him how important he was to my development.

Mary--One of the things he remembered was my moccasins. One year in high school I wore moccasins every day, and not the kind with the hard sole. There was only a thin layer of suede between my feet and the ground (I never wore socks) so when it snowed or rained, my feet got wet.

I was crazy about shoes even then...

Renee--My math and science grades were horrid. Math still makes me shiver with fright. How lucky you were to have a teacher to fight for you. How about that first book? When will it come out? ;)

Angela--So even back then, you were into fashion? Aaah, so that is why you looked so chic in just a shirt. ;)

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