As far back as I can remember I have always taken a book with me when I leave the house. Reading held the highest honor in my family and each member has their own large collection of favorite books. Books were my friends when I felt alone and my hiding place when I needed quiet time. They were also my entertainment and never failed me, even when the power went out! Many writers have touched my life throughout the years.
Like many children, some of my earliest reading material came courtesy of Dr. Seuss. My favorite of his stories had to be "The Sneetches." Of course, as a young child I never realized the depth of the message that I was learning from the Star-Bellied Sneetches! Seuss managed to take some of the most complicated moral issues and turn them into fun rhymes and colorful tales. He is one of the most wonderful influences that a young child could have.
C.S. Lewis is another author who managed to turn deep moral and religious issues into children's stories. I wasn't aware that the Narnia stories were Biblical allegories when I first read them. They were fun and exciting tales that I could relate to - like most children I had a rich imagination. I always wondered what would happen if I was suddenly swept away into one of my worlds. As an adult convert to Catholicism, I often wonder if my childhood reading had anything to do with my religious practices now.
In high school I began to write more seriously and dream of being a published author one day. Then I found "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. While I applied the mantra "practice makes perfect" to nearly every aspect of my life, somehow I hadn't thought to use it with my writing. Her emphasis on writing practice made so much sense, and helped me develop my talent over the years.
For my high school graduation, my cousin gave me a copy of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach. His inscription said that it was a book which helped him through a difficult time in life and he hoped it would do the same when I needed it. He couldn't have been more right! I keep this book close by at times when I feel like no one understands my dreams.
Most recently, a book on freelance writing came into my life through a recommendation on a message board. It is called "Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer" and is by Jenna Glatzer. I had always dreamt of writing for magazines and journals and popular websites, but was unsure of the process and lacking confidence. I needed help to learn, but didn't personally know any freelancers. Glatzer now feels like a friend, because she has taught me something I desperately wanted to know about.
Writers have an amazing opportunity to influence people's lives with their words. I feel blessed each time someone tells me that my writing had an impact on them. There is no greater joy.