Influences Distilled: A Thank You to Seventeen Influential Women

When I was a girl, summer mornings, I babysat Mary Shindell's four boys, while she went to the basement to draw.  The paper was large and high quality, even I could tell that.  Mary could work on a single drawing for weeks, densely detailed abstractions of natural objects.  I now realize, I've modeled my motherhood after Mary's.  When unoccupied with the kids, I make art.  So a lot doesn't get done, and I know it makes my husband anxious that I have virtually nothing saved for retirement.  He told me so yesterday.

My mom insisted I practice my flute everyday which annoyed me as a kid.  But as a 25 year old returning Peace Corp Volunteer announcing my intentions to be a writer, I recognized it as sage advice.

Marlo Thomas taught me to be free to be you and me.  Mildred D. Taylor showed how it's possible to fall in love with characters born on book pages.  Toni Morrison taught me the finery of stitching words together.  Jean Auel allowed me to imagine the world when humans began to evolve.  Annie Dillard made me see the magic in what it right before my eyes.  Joan Didion showed how the writer is always a character.  Janet Malcolm illustrated how no one is objective.  Lydia Davis taught me how to enlarge my idea of story.  From Laurie Anderson I learned about juxtaposition, and from Pauline Oliveros, how to listen. Meredith Monk showed me how to sing forgotten languages. Lynda Barry illuminated a new approach to combining words and pictures.  From Flannery O'Connor, I learned how strange stories can evolve.  And from Gillian Welch, how to sing a story.

I thank you all for not giving up even when you thought you should.  And thank you for giving me the courage to discover that practice is the powerful force behind every endeavor.

Portrait of the artist at Rocky Mountain National Park.  Probably taken in 1992 or 3 by C.L.  I love the way it looks like I am standing in a studio with a painted backdrop ten feet off.  It was so beautiful, I cried.  I was considering a life in environment education, though what I dreamed about was becoming the next Anais-Nin.

1 comment:

  1. A nudge of encouragement from Taos, NM. Keep doing what you love.