“… There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all …” ~ John Lennon, Real Love: The Drawings for Sean
I met him in 1989. Twenty-four years ago. I remember walking into his classroom and seeing him at the front of the room. He was dressed casually, with black jeans and sneakers. I thought he was a bit young to be a “professor.” He had a military look about him. Later he would reveal that he had served in the military as a naval aviator.
I remember him because he had a hand in shaping a part of who I have become. My parents were the one who had instilled in me a love for reading, but he was the one who had inspired me to write. Write anything. Just write. One of our exercises in his creative writing class was to write a daily journal entry. He was never judgmental about what we wrote. He merely wanted us to get into the habit of writing, about anything, and to let our creatve juices flowing. At first, my journal entries were boring. I wrote just enough to complete the exercise, and it was always without any thought. But as time went on, I started to think. I started to really care about what I was writing. I started to pay attention to the words I was using and how I was using them.
I worked hard on the papers I submitted to him. I waited anxiously for his comments about my writing. He was always inspiring and never critical. He encouraged, rather than discouraged. I have never forgotten him, and much of how I write is because of him.
Thank you, Mr. Van Kirk. You have been an inspiration.