Have you every diagrammed a sentence? I can still remember my eighth grade English teacher filling the entire blackboard with complicated diagrams of compound-complex sentences. I can still hear the sound of the chalk hitting the board, can still see the chalk dust flying.
Very cool, sentence diagramming. In fact, if you can correctly diagram a complicated sentence, you've got a COMPLETE grasp on sentence structure. It's an excellent skill (and one that I don't claim to have mastered).
Yes, there's an analogy in all this.
Each of us has our own "diagram", as it were, of the people who have influenced us along the way. From the first person who said, "You write well!" to the first-prize win in the seventh grade writing contest, to the first request for a partial manuscript. Everyone has a role, and our journey would look vastly different if even ONE name were removed.
I can't make a diagram here. But I can list some highlights from my own journey:
1. My third grade English teacher, who helped me compile a collection of poems and short stories to present to the school library at the end of the year.
2. My sister, who listened to me read pages of my diary-of-a-nineteenth-century-girl-who-sounded-alarmingly-like-Laura-Ingalls, and whose pages I listened to as well. (Hundreds of handwritten pages!)
3. DAVE, who read several chapters of my very first novel and taught me, patiently, that I had no idea what "point of view" meant.
4. MY AGENT FROM HELL, whose nightmare of a role led to the kick-in-the-butt I needed to really LEARN the industry--and ultimately land an agent who was right for me.
5. ELIZABETH, a then-assistant at an agency whom I randomly emailed for advice about extricating myself from the AGENT FROM HELL, simply because I liked the sound of her bio. (And she gave me gracious, helpful advice.)
6. JODI, whose first critique of my work was, as you already know, the catalyst of my moving from "consciously incompetent" to "consciously competent".
7. LAUREN, who understood my story, requested revisions, and ultimately passed on offering representation. She has been an integral, irreplaceable part of my journey.
8. BETH, who showed me what was broken.
9. JOSH. Well, yeah.
If I sat down with a twelve-by-eighteen sheet of paper and some colored pencils, my diagram would be more complex than the simple list above. So many voices of encouragement (and discouragement, too); so many pieces to fit together! I should really sit down and do it some day.
Your turn! Who has influenced your journey? There are probably dozens of names. But if you could choose the top three, who would they be?
Loving this journey! I know you are, too.
Well, most days. *grin*