At this point in my journey, I find myself thinking about the people who’ve encouraged me to write.
As authors, we all probably have teachers in our lives who’ve made a significant impact on our desire and ambition in the publishing world. Personally, several of my teachers influenced or motivated me, but the one who really pushed me to write was my University of Pikeville professor, Dr. John Walter Scott.
Dr. Scott was one of those Professor’s who didn’t bullshit, and his teaching was profound. He truly dedicated himself to teaching, not just at my college, but also abroad. He taught me the grit and gristle of the era which produced Shakespeare, about the great writers that came before us, and he did it in a conversational style which melded interesting information in a way anyone could comprehend.
He told this story about one of my favorite works, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Dr. Scott was a Navy Veteran. He once went out on a ship at night, and in the fog of the dark ocean, he saw a faint green glow around the ship. For a moment, he thought the Rime of the Ancient Mariner was coming to life. It turned out, some sort of algae was responsible for the glow. The way he told the story, you could see and hear the enthusiasm for his craft and for the poem.
It is with regret that I must say, in March of 2017, Dr. Scott passed away. He was the only soul to read the pages of my first attempt at a novel. My senior year of college was fifteen years ago, I double majored in Psychology and English, and I was required to complete a capstone project for each class. I knew I would not have time to write a complete novel. To be honest, looking back, I know I was afraid to try. Still, Dr. Scott encouraged me to write a few chapters as my capstone project. I was reluctant, but I agreed.
The biggest fear I had was letting anyone else read anything I wrote. Still, I finished the thirty pages and presented those now long lost chapters as my final project.
I’ll never forget Dr. Scott’s criticism, “Your writing reminds me of Isaac Asmov.” I was floored. Could I ever measure up to such an icon? I really hope someday I do.
What? Surely, that couldn’t be true? Had he really written those words? We had a conversation about my project and he went on to say, “I really think you can publish a book someday. You have the talent. You just have to keep writing.”
Up until that point and even after, people tell me my dreams aren’t realistic. I’ve spent most of my life succeeding at proving those people wrong. For someone who barely knew me, to have such confidence in me, I have always and will continue to be very thankful to Dr. Scott for believing in me. I look forward to proving him right.
It’s been a decade. I can’t do anything about the time I didn’t spend pursuing my dream. Now, that I’m finally writing, I’m not going to stop.
If “Ignorance is the curse of God,” and, “Knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to Heaven,” I believe Dr. Scott can see from his vantage point, how much of an inspiration to me those few words were and how thankful I will always be to have had him as my teacher.