When I saw this topic, one author immediately came to mind. My local library has an author program and has been able to invite many well-known authors to our small, rural town. Through that program, I have the likes of Billy Collins, Nikki Giovanni, Jim Heynen, Laura Kasichke, Gail Gaymer Martin and many more. Most of the time, I barely managed to stammer ‘hello.’
However the author that came to mind was one that I heard speak while I was in college. I had read one of his books in high school and it was probably the first time that individual words and phrases stuck out to me. I didn’t get to meet him personally, but sat in the fieldhouse on horridly uncomfortable bleachers riveted as he spoke about what it meant to write and be a writer.
At the time I heard this, I was an English major and wasn’t sure what I would do with that. I had a year or so until I graduated. Writing novels would be a dream career, but I wasn’t sure I had anything new to say or the talent to do it. I wasn’t dark and brooding. I didn’t ponder metaphors in my free time. I didn’t discuss how cigarettes mirrored modern life over coffee in dingy coffee houses in suspect parts of town. How could I be a writer? Writing was something that I would love to do, but had no idea how to do about it.
I don’t remember a lot of what he said, but one sentence stayed with me:
If you want to write, write.
Perhaps, that simple admonishment has been my motivation.
Since then I have read more of his books and his autobiography. He was a fascinating man, able to describe a horrid experience so that another generation does not repeat the atrocities.
His name was Elie Wiesel.
May he rest in peace.