People very easily influence other people’s writing, especially since writers tend to be hyper-observant and are inspired by the smallest things. It isn’t hard to affect a writer in those little ways, but it is a bit more difficult or tedious to impact a writer, particularly me, in a big way. My dad, of course, was one of these big influences (see Influential People Part 1), but he is not the only one.
My second day of my junior year of high school, third block, I walked into Mr. Egan’s Creative Writing class. First impression: chaos. Second impression 5 seconds later: home. While chairs were used more as footstools than actual chairs and writing assignments were on an “at least try it first,” basis and more talking about writing than actual writing occurred in class, Egan and this mess-at-first-sight helped me fall in love with writing.
Egan taught me how to love my writing, even in it’s crappy first draft stage. He taught me how to take and give criticism well. He taught through Anne Lamott, random poetry prompts, one-on-one conferences, and by example. He learned right along side us, because a writer never stops learning.
Alongside the writing and the chaos of a high school class room, amidst all the drama and hardships that year brought for many of us in that class, Egan cared. Still cares. Not only about our writing, but about us as students and as people, because how can those things ever be separated? From that first day, I knew I could always step into his classroom and would end up laughing at some point before I left. I knew I could write anything and get honest feedback. To this day, two years after I have graduated, I can walk into his classroom and talk about writing for hours, then proceed to ask his current class if they want to read an unpublished novel over the summer.
Thank you, Egan, for everything you have done to improve my writing as well as help me grow as a person. I cannot wait to see what the future brings for you and the many students you will influence!