Friday, March 25, 2011

Photo Friday: My Mentor, Shirley

photo: Shirley and I went to listen to Jack Canfield speak a few years ago.

I was invited to visit with my friend and mentor, Shirley Waite this afternoon. She is such an inspiration! I know it sounds cliche' but I just can't think of another way to put it, but let me try.

Shirley is a longtime writer with hundreds of articles to her name and even a book. She is also longtime friend of my mothers. When I was a teenager, she helped me to polish a piece that I entered in the Guideposts Youth Writing Contest. She was the first person to recognize that I had a teeny bit-o-talent for writing. I won a $2000 scholarship for my entry, A Special Smile.

Much later in my life, she invited me to a local Christian writer's group. There, I brought my book, titled BREAKING THE CODE. It was a biography about my father and his wartime experiences. But something transformative happened; it was just a simple comment but it changed the life of my book. She said, 'Karen, have you considered that this isn't just your father's story...that it's your story too?' I hadn't. I talked about how chasing the story was affecting me, but then I wrote it about HIM. I hadn't considered it at all. But with those words, I knew something important had happened.

I went home and started to add all of my feelings, my emotions, my experiences. I'd say at first, it was more of my experiences. Later, I would realize that my feelings and emotions needed to be shared too. That was the scary part! But I did it.

When I wanted to enter my book in a writing contest, she volunteered to edit it. Then she sat down with me and went through each word, each line, each paragraph. She told me what she thought needed to be done and where the text was confusing. Honestly, I'd thought she'd just pat me on the back and say, "Oh my! What a fabulous writer you are! I wouldn't change a thing!" But true to the writer-blood that flows through her veins, she shared every minute detail that her editors eyes saw.

I didn't mention in this piece that Shirley has Parkinson's Disease. I didn't mention the tremors and shakes that wrack her small frame, and the pain that accompanies it. Why? Because it is irrelavent, except to show the strength of her character.

So, thank you Shirley, for the cherry dessert you served this afternoon. But thanks most of all for seeing something in me that no one else had seen; that I really could write. You are one amazing lady!

Have you had a mentor in your life? Have you written about him/her? Don't you think it's time?

Write Now - Because it's Later than you Think! ~Karen

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