or: I’m glad I learned the lesson from a master
by Thea Atkinson
I wrote a post last week for amwriting. I had scrambled through my brain trying to find a topic and decided on the two little pet peeves I had about social media and authors. I won’t bore you here with the info; rather, I’ll let you visit the site if you choose to read it.
The crux was that in it I wanted to link to a couple of mentors I’ve had since I began my writing journey. One, Sandra Phinney who is a friend and peer, might be loathe to call herself my mentor, but on my freelance journey she was exactly that. She can find the story in a stump. (her words, not mine, but apt.)
A second was Glen Hancock. I’ve been writing fiction for lots of years. (One day I’ll get good at it) For a couple of years, I tried to support myself by freelancing with nonfiction, and I was green, green, green, my friend. Sandra was about a year into her new freelance business and Glen was about twenty years on the other end of retirement. He still wrote, though, and still volunteered at Acadia to help new writers stretch their wings.
He also hosted a monthly get together in his home for Sandra and I to learn at his feet while the fire roared and we nibbled egg sandwiches and slurped pea soup. We talked writing, ideas, the big dos and don’ts, and ultimately, he critiqued our work for us.
That was eye-opening to say the least. He did so with passion but also with positivism. Getting a kudos from him wasn’t rare, but he always delivered the harsher news in a way that made you believe you knew how to do it right in the first place but somehow just slipped away from the story.
He gave of his time every month for several years. Sandra and I got too busy to be regular students, but we visited as often as we could. I’ll never forget those years with the fire roaring, the pea soup and sandwiches he had for us, the quiet, smiling way he had of encouraging us.
So when I went to include his name in my post, I wanted to find a way to link to this old world gentleman who had in the latest years written a series of books about his life. I thought it would be a small way of giving him some exposure.
I knew I wouldn’t find a website (He was 90 last time we visited last year) but I knew his publisher would have a page for him. Alas, the first thing that came up was his obituary.
I won’t say how sad I was to see it. I couldn’t read it. I still haven’t read it, but his smiling photo says it all to me, and I don’t think I will ever read it.
You should though; I know what will be in it: that he supported other writers. You should read it and say to yourself, “How can I encourage another writer? How can I help someone just starting find the way through the door?”
That’s the legacy my mentors have left me. Without them, I would be writing in a lonely room for myself. I’d never have published any of my shorts, my nonfiction, my essays…heck, my now self-published novels would be languishing on my hard drive and piling up in there.
So I think about Glen and I am reminded how he gave of his talent, skill, and knowledge without so much as asking for us to make him a sandwich. He sent out regular Christmas cards, and invitations to his annual summer garden parties and expected nothing in return except your most recent writing news. He gave of his time. His TIME in a way that was inspiring.
That’s the legacy I want to leave as a writer.
Thank you Glen. Rest easy.
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