Tuesday, October 29, 2013 | By: Lynn

Influential People

When I was in fifth grade, many years ago, my art teacher took me aside one day and told me she thought I had artistic talent. She wanted to talk to my parents about enrolling me in classes at the local art school. I don’t even remember her name, but that teacher influenced my life in ways she'll never know. She "saw" me and believed in me, and for that I saw myself in a kinder more positive light.

The list of people who have had an impact on my life is long. It includes people who helped me in positive ways and those who hurt me. Both helped me define myself and grow into the person I am today, a work in progress.

As a writer, I especially appreciate the influences that helped me become a better writer. An editor at a newspaper who gave me a chance when I had mainly passion, but not a lot of experience. Under his training, I learned valuable lessons about writing a good lede and the importance of writing concisely. My husband, who has never wavered from believing in my abilities, even when I didn't. Writers who have encouraged me to write through blocks and see possibilities in my latest WIP. And people who have helped me see blessings and opportunities in difficult people and circumstances. Even when I didn't know how important writing would be to me, influential people were helping me to discover who I was and how I wanted to express myself in the world. That's why my children are at the top of this list. They helped me open my heart and appreciate the marvel of love in a much bigger way.

But not all influential people have been walking, breathing individuals. Many good insights in my life have come from fictional characters. Thank you Kelly Armstrong, for instance, for writing women protagonists who had problems and "flaws" that needed self-understanding and room to blossom into useful qualities. And another thank you to Jim Butcher for writing really fun books about a wizard – 'nuff said – but also a character who saves the world over and over again and still suffers feelings of self-doubt and imperfection.

My list of influential people continues to grow, just as I do. And every day is an opportunity to be a positive influence in someone's life, whether we know it or not.

Who is one of your most influential people? What gift did they offer you?