Julie's post about Don was so moving and so... so... just right that I found myself thinking hard about what to post today. I didn't want to put up anything trivial, but I didn't want to change the subject entirely, either.
So I've picked up a thread from Julie's post - the one about inspirational people, the people who are genial shadows at our shoulder saying, "go on! You can do it!"
It starts with Mum, I think. It was Mum who taught me to read at an early age (so early, in fact, that when I went to infants' school, Mum was told off for having taught me to read, because, "now she will have to un-learn it all so that we can teach her properly."
Mum took me to the library every week or so, where I could have four books, and only one of them could be Asterix.... I think I spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book, and there was never any shortage. We had a houseful of books, and I made the transition from Famous Five to Mary Stewart and Desmond Bagley without ever thinking about what was a "children's book" or what was a "grown-up's book". They were just good stories.
Dad read aloud to us on holidays, giving a different voice to every character, teaching me about emotional punch when he read about Aslan's sacrifice with a catch in his voice. I can remember now the smell of the tent and the sound of his voice telling us "he is not a tame lion" through the canvas walls of our sleeping compartment. He also gave me his old typewriter, handling it with the reverence due to a tool for creating words. I typed my first story, aged seven, on it.
Then there was Mr Bennet. Mr Bennet my English teacher from age 11 to 18. Mr Bennet who stood on the desk in front of me to read my work because I told him I didn't like people reading over my shoulder. Who let two of us study Mansfield Park when the rest of the class were doing The Chocolate War. Who introduced me to obscure books by unheard-of writers, leading me to leap across genres without giving the classification a moment's thought. Who helped me love Chaucer, Shakespeare and (eventually) Milton with the same heart that devoured Terry Pratchett and Roger Zelazny.
These are the people who helped to generate the love of words, of stories, who nurtured it. None of them were remotely surprised when I expressed a desire to write.
They just said, "go on! You can do it!"
Who are or were the personal influences in your writing life?