I’ve had several champions of my creative ability over the years, almost equal in amount to enemies of my ability. I realize that both suggest I have far more creative potential than I actually tap.
The three I honor today:
1. Mrs. Keene
She told me when I was 13 that my work merited submission for publication. She also wanted to know why I kept my talent under wraps, despite the psychological bloodbath that played out in her classroom daily. She set an example for me. By ignoring the assholes that mistreated me, she rendered them irrelevant. Her actions hit me on a deep psychological level, and it probably helped me all the way through high school: the opinions of my peers truly meant nothing. I enjoyed an internal freedom most teenagers and adults never know.
2. Mrs. Ciocina
Another English teacher, she held on to the mock tabloid newspaper I created based on the characters in the Odyssey. Mine was the only project done solo, and it was funny, literate and well-designed. I kind of wish I’d kept it myself, and I might recreate it with a more adult view. It was hella fun to make. She often praised my turn of phrase and my unique perspective.
3. My father
His praise wasn’t as direct, it was more that he demonstrated respect for my intelligence and faith in my ability that I didn’t usually get at home. Yes, he did undermine that one or twice when I was younger, but as I came into adulthood, he often listened to me, considered reason, and honored my decisions even when he didn’t like them. On some things he was a man of his times and thus a bit of an idiot – like when he suggested I find work as a paralegal after I’d earned my bachelor’s degree (or when he suggested I go to trade school, mostly out of selfish parent syndrome.) But other times he showed enormous faith in me, like when he let me grade papers of kids my own age or slightly younger to ensure an objective eye went over them. He even accepted notes from me on a few scripts that he wrote, and sometimes I think if he’d let me, I could have been his creative champion.