...or where he is today, but he shaped my life. I was 11 years old, and we lived in Maryland. My dad was working on a project that must have required many of his coworkers to be away from their families, because while on that job, we often had some of his colleagues over for dinner. One night a big cheerful man with lots of grey hair came over. He enjoyed the dinner with abandon, and he laughed a lot, and he treated myself and my siblings like we were real people with real things to say. This was unusual, as most of dad’s visitors ate mom’s good cooking, chatted with my parents and largely ignored us little people.
After dinner, we were showing him the brand new family computer, trying out all the bells and whistles. We got talking about word processing software and from there somehow I wound up telling him I really enjoy writing, and how frustrating it was to look at what I had written, deem it unfit for human eyes, and then destroy everything I’ve written.
He looked at me with such alarm; I thought I had offended him somehow.
“Don’t ever destroy what you’ve written,” he said. “No matter how senseless or poorly constructed it might seem, there’s no such things as bad writing. Those are your thoughts, your words; don’t destroy them. And don’t ever stop writing.”
I’ve never stopped.
Wherever he is right now, I hope he has a beautiful day.