Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Who inspired you to write?
She was old, round, and short. Her gray hair curled around her face, a face with eyes that peered sternly at her students through a pair of black-rimmed glasses. She carried a sharp number 2 pencil with her long before I knew what a number two pencil was. On the blackboard, she produced some of the finest letters of the alphabet I had ever seen. True, at age six I hadn’t seen many, but I knew that my teacher was precise and neat. Miss Terwilliger taught me to read and to write, but she did more than that. She overlooked my sloppy penmanship and read the stories I created. She then read aloud them to the class. In second grade, she was my teacher again, and marched me and my classmates into the third and fourth grade classroom where I read more of my stories. There was Susie Has the Chicken Pops and The Birthday Party.
Because of Miss Terwilliger, I knew I could write. She accepted every stapled stick-person-illustrated-messy-lettered story I gave her. These were not part of any assignment, just my passion coming through. Something about her made me want to share my tales. Perhaps even at a young age, I recognized that with her, my stories were safe.
All these years later when I’m asked which great author encouraged me the most in my writing, I’m not certain. But when I let my mind detour from authors and meet me in a little Victorian-style school in Kyoto, Japan, I find my answer. Miss Terwilliger taught me that I am and have always been an author.
Contributed by Alice J. Wisler
This article was first posted at The Most Important Thing.