Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jan 1948 - 2017

Four years ago, I was semi-newly retired and still sorting through what to do now that I was no longer starting my day at 6:45 in a high school classroom.

On a whim, I signed up for a writing class at a city museum.
       Entering the room that first day I found long tables grouped into a rectangle, with enough room for about fifteen. To the most part we were a homogenous group, women of a certain age, except for one or two women who looked to be early thirties.
       Our facilitator was one of us – a woman who looked to be my age, with reddish-blond hair, a tentative smile, and expressive hands. She welcomed back those who’d taken the class before as well as those of us who were new. Soon we were off – responding to the prompts she’d provided. To the most part the class wrote memoir, with an occasional poem or reflection thrown in, but from the first we all received the same title.


I had spent years teaching Dickinson, and Fitzgerald, and Poe, and Kafka. They were writers. But Jan listened to us and validated what we did and she called us writers. Over time, I began to believe her.

There are few people that I can say changed my life, but she did.

Because of her, I’ve gathered my past into concrete memories and recalled events I thought I’d lost. Because of her encouragement, I’ve written two books and started a third. Because she told me I needed a blog, here I am.

After a sudden and unexpected diagnosis, she passed away this week.


  1. I am so sorry to hear of her passing, but she was right: you are a writer, and I'm glad you have this blog. I learn something from your posts almost every time. Thank you for continuing to write it. :-)

  2. Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that -- but what an amazing gift she gave you, helping you to reveal the writer inside.

  3. Sorry to hear! And yes, indeed a teacher that allows us to grow in our abilities and confidence.

  4. How sad. Too young, too soon. Cherish the gift, and use it.

  5. Such a tragedy to lose those who have really inspired the lives of others. I am sorry for your loss.

  6. Some people know how to support and us and influence us forever.

  7. How very sad to lose someone who was so special.

  8. I am so sorry you lost someone who pointed you in the right direction and encouraged you.
    Yes, you are a writer and so are all of us who blog. I may not be published but I write, ergo, I am a writer. You are published so that makes you even better--- you are an author.

  9. How lovely to find such an encouraging teacher and so sad to lose her too. She taught you well, though, Your blog posts are a joy to read and I have one of your books waiting in line on my kindle.
    I signed up for a short-story writing course once and stuck it out even though I didn't like the teacher much. She was anti pop-fiction and heavily leaning towards literature. As far as I'm concerned, literature and short stories don't really mesh. Literature is long winded, short stories need to grab the attention immediately and hold it for the length of the story.

    1. I admire your ability to write short stories - I think they're more difficult to write than longer pieces.

  10. Wonderful lesson in all of this, as to how we should treat people and interact with them. We never know what kind of impression we might be making on someone's life. I'm sorry for your loss. -Jenn

  11. I'm sorry to hear your mentor and friend has passed.


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