Saturday, June 9, 2012

Going Home and a Tribute to a Teacher

The title of Thomas Wolfe’s book, You Can’t Go Home Again, rings true in so many ways.

But it wasn’t true for me this week thanks to the hospitality of Patti Joiner at Troup’s Gifts as she hosted a Meet the Author event in her shop. I did go home again and found so many friends and family there to greet me. Just a joy in every way.

I grew up in the foothills of the hazy Blue Ridge Mountains.

Currahee Mountain

Writing started at an early age, but it was my senior year in high school before I summoned the courage to share any of my personal writing.

The person to whom I showed a few poems was my high school English teacher, Connie Harding.
Wasn't she beautiful?

Still have one of the poems I showed her. Yes, it was written on a typewriter.

Somehow, with her, I felt safe to let out the teenage angst that stirred inside me.

Her response?

She legitimized the emotional struggles I’d expressed through my work and encouraged me to press on with my writing. I can still feel the shock I experienced that a teacher would respond in that way. It made me think that maybe I should continue to write.

And I did, keeping journals and writing songs at first, and then in 2000, I wrote a devotional book. Many more devotions and articles followed.

In 2006, when it came time to get a response for my first novel manuscript, I turned to her. When I wrote another, she again looked at it. That second manuscript was Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees published last year.

I haven’t actually seen Connie Harding for decades. Yesterday, I had the privilege of giving her a hug.
Connie Harding, she's still just as beautiful as ever!

I’m grateful for an educator who early in her own career gave me something to reach for. And I’m sure her encouragement has also motivated many others to press into their gifts.

I’ve wondered if her response had been different back all those years ago, whether I would have continued to dream about being a writer. It’s entirely possible I might have pulled back into my shell permanently. But, her words not only left my dream intact, but propelled it forward.

It's certainly a lesson to me when I'm teaching writing classes and encounter young writers just starting out.

So, here’s to her, and others like her who give so selflessly every day and sometimes wonder to what effect.

Connie Harding helped set the course of my life.

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God” (Philippians 1:3 The Message).
Please go to my new Facebook author page for more pictures of yesterday's Meet the Author Event. And would you also consider Liking it as well. Thanks much.


Audrey said...

What an encouraging post :) I hope you are doing well, Beverly. I miss you!

Beverly Varnado said...

Oh, yes, Audrey, be encouraged. What you do every day sets imaginations spinning and helps kids dare to believe that they, too, can create beautiful somethings out of nothing. Thank you for your dedication, and I'm sure it won't be too many years before you hear similar accolades. I have "One Pure and Holy Passion" on my ipod and every time I hear it, I think of you and your sweet voice. Would love to hear it in person, soon. Many blessings, and much love. Bev

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...