As soon as I heard this story on my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert’s Success Hotline,* I had to share it. Rob is a big believer about the power of one: the power of one idea, one book, one encounter to have a life-changing effect. But he adds, “If you don’t go, you’ll never know” — if you don’t go to that program or event, meet that person or see that book, you’ll never be exposed to your personal game-changer.
Case in point: Years ago, when he was in college, Scott Kelly went to the school bookstore to buy some gum. While he was there, he happened to see a copy of The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe. Something about it — the name or the cover — attracted him. He brought it and read it from cover to cover. As he described it, the book “ignited a spark in me.” By the time he finished it, Scott knew what he wanted to do: he wanted to be an astronaut.
Not long ago, he completed a 350-day mission in space and while he was there, he called Tom Wolfe to thank him for penning his book and setting him on his life’s path. Wow! What a testimony to the power of writing. Wordsmiths take heed and sustenance!
Great story, isn’t it? I wonder if all writers and aspiring writers are like Scott and can point to a single book or life experience that ignited their desire to play with words and create the world’s stories. When I ponder my own beginnings, I think of a short story a gifted teacher Mrs. Parsons gave me when I was about 12. We had just finished a story that I talked a lot about in class and Mrs. Parsons said, “If you liked that story so much, Karin, I think you’ll really love this one.”
She handed me a copy of “Neighbor Rosicky” by Willa Cather. She was right! I absolutely loved that story. Something about its elegant structure, its spare writing so freighted with emotion, affected me so deeply. In that moment, I came to appreciate what it meant to use
words to craft a story that truly touched the heart. And I knew I wanted to learn how to do that — that it was an important and worthy endeavor deserving of my time and devotion.
How about you? Is there a book or story that helped set you on your writing journey? If so, I’d love to hear about it as we all write on!
* Check out Dr. Rob Gilbert’s fabulous Success Hotline: 973.743.4690.