I find myself drawn to authors
Who write honestly about their lives.
The joyful, the horrific, the messy in-between,
Obsessive prose that consumes their lives,
Resulting in pages vibrating with voice.
I have many mentors,
but I have just one hour,
to write this Tuesday-afternoon-blog.
Time is ticking,
So here are authors who first come to mind:
Bill Bryson finds the humor in the subtlest of objects--
From him I learn to look for life’s minutia.
Anne Lamott finds light within the darkness--
From her I learn to find hope in the hopeless.
Erik Laarson finds stunning events from history
and infuses them with real, human emotions.
From him I learn that we live history.
And one day, we too will be pegs on a timeline.
Toni Morrison writes about lives so different from my own.
But are our lives really all that different?
Don’t we all travel down different pathways of pain?
Isabel Wilkerson writes about a Great African-American migration,
About the South when I live--
About the escape of those who felt trapped by it--
And she teaches me a history I should have learned in high school.
Pat Conroy rewrote his childhood over and over again
Hoping to make sense of it.
I don’t know if he ever did.
I don’t know if I ever will.
Ernest Hemingway, the opposite of Conroy,
Wrote simple, direct, and unadorned.
There’s so much we can say,
In just a few well-connected words to form a sentence.
Harper Lee, with just one book,
(I don’t count the second)
Never expected the success that came with Mockingbird.
She taught me that you write what you know--
And sometimes the whole world resonates with it.
Langston Hughes, my GOD, LANGSTON HUGHES!
Montage of a Dream Deferred,
Mother to Son,
I learned it’s okay to be jealous of a writer’s talents.
This list is short,
One day I'll add more,
Mentors who speak to me when I read their work,
And admire it from a distance--
As a fellow writer reading away, just traveling through.
About the Author
Brian Kissel is an Associate Professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His focus is writing instruction. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Hattie and three kiddos: Charlie, Ben, and Harriet.