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To read. To write. To love.

March 24, 2010
Books - bookcase top shelf
Image by ~ Phil Moore via Flickr

Someone recently asked, “Who influenced your writing, your obsession with words and/or your love of reading?” So…here goes:

It all started when I was four. How to Be a Grouch was my favorite book, and I begged my mom to read it constantly to the point that the binding was loose, the pages falling out and poor Oscar was looking considerably tattered – even for him.

And then it happened.

I stopped reciting the story and began reading it! I was amazed, awed and, yes, proud. I couldn’t wait to start reading everything I could get my hands on.

Story Time

This love of the written word continued throughout gradeschool, and was spurred by Mrs. Nodeen, who was brave enough to hold story time for a bunch of ‘we’re-too-mature-to-be-read-to-like-preschoolers’ fourth graders! She read classics, like Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Pollyanna and The Secret Garden, which many in the class would never have ‘read’ had it not been for her determination and passion for reading/writing.

By eighth grade, I was on to Great Expectations, The House of Seven Gables, Jane Eyre and the like, and by high school my love for all things written was firmly entrenched. I excelled in English, and loved the nuances of this language and others, including French and Spanish.

Finding Perspective

Enter Mr. Bittle. Do you remember the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’? English teacher John Keating was the reincarnation of my own high school English teacher, Mr. Bittle, who died tragically in a car accident my senior year. He was the stand-on-your-desk-to-gain-a-fresh-perspective-on-life kinda guy, and encouraged us to read books that pushed the envelope in a small Midwestern town, including Slaughter House V and Catcher in the Rye.

He encouraged us to try new things, understand our inner voice and not be afraid to express ourselves. To make a difference. To espouse a controversial opinion – if we believed in it. To embrace differences. To celebrate life.

To read. To write. To live.

Through his teaching, encouragement and unique bent on life, we learned it was okay to offer unpopular ideas and express ourselves in words. I wanted to a make a difference as he continued to make a difference in the lives of his students.

Changing Course

Along the path to becoming a teacher, I took a Marketing course and changed my direction. I graduated college with a multidisciplinary degree in English, Business/Marketing and French/Spanish.

My first ‘real’ job was at a quaint bookstore in downtown Geneva, Ill. And from there, I jumped into advertising, quite literally falling into a writing gig. I was never one of those people who knew she wanted to write from day one. Read? Yes. Write? Not so much.

Of course, I’d silently breathe a sigh of relief each time a test was essay to which others would outwardly groan, received compliments on papers, and continually had teachers/professors encourage me to go into writing, which I’d quickly dismiss. I thought they were being overly kind, and didn’t see how I could possibly make a living writing.

Write for a Living

Little did I know I’d have a career writing professionally for the past 15 years. With the change to my most recent role, the writing is more strategic, less creative. This has enabled me to return to my love of writing in my personal life, starting two new blogs and trying my hand at a cozy mystery.

I can’t wait to see what other adventures are waiting around the corner.

Your turn! What spurred your love for reading, writing and the written word?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ann permalink
    March 29, 2010 5:31 pm

    Dear Lo- What a great blog! YOUR people are indeed MY people. Mrs. Nodeen’s passion for literature and teaching methods are still legendary at the grade school. And Mr. Bittle… What could be said about Mr. Bittle? One of the greatest tragedies of the accident that took him from us too soon was the scores of students that came after us who would never know his love of creative writing and unique, Keating-esque perspective on life. But who truly inspires me to read? YOU do, my dear friend Laura, you do. Even though I only spend a weekend at a time with you, the love of a book you borrowed from a co-worker, a new vampire series you’ve discovered or the fact that you grab your book to read at a stop light to absorb one more phrase is undeniably inspiring and influencial to me. Your enthusiasm for reading and writing (and life) is contagious and I’m so thankful for it… and you. I read because of you, Laura Maly. I read because of you. Miss you much. Bye!

    • March 30, 2010 6:50 am

      Wow. Talk about a great comment! =) Tears. In my eyes. Now. Thanks, Ann! I’m in awe.

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