Today is the first Wednesday of the month and my regular readers know what this means: it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I just got an authorization for the latest JAWS, my screen reader, which turns out to support the WordPress block editor, so I’m trying that out now as I type.
I did quite well in the writing department over the month of January, having published 29 blog posts, including a poem and a piece of flash fiction. For February, I signed up for #Write28Days, so my main goal is to write a post for that challenge each day.
Now on to this month’s optional question. For the month of February, we are asked to share about someone who supported or influenced us in our writing who isn’t around anymore. Immediately, my thoughts went to my high school tutor. Even as I type this, I am still not sure whether I want to name him by his full name, as in general my relationship with him was tainted by the many conflicting interests he had to juggle as my high school tutor and the assistant principal, with me being the only student with a major disability in his mainstream school. That being said, he was a major supporter of my writing.
I must explain here that he wasn’t originally my tutor from the start, but my original tutor went on long-term sick leave, never to return, shortly before winter break my second year in this school in the middle of eighth grade. The teacher I talk about here became my tutor shortly after the winter break. In one of our first one-on-one tutor-student talks, he asked me about my hobbies I think and we somehow got talking about writing. He asked if he could read one of my stories and I eagerly agreed. I think I even wrote an original story specifically to show him.
This story was rather autobiographically-based, but not so clearly so that it could be transferred one-to-one into my school situation. My tutor did immediately notice the autobiographical elements though.
I was quite a troubled teen and struggled greatly, being multiply-disabled in a mainstream school. Sometimes, I struggled to speak. Over the years, my tutor encouraged me to write things down when I couldn’t speak, be it in fictionalized form or not. Once I got a public online diary, which later morphed into a blog, I permitted my tutor to read it, reasoning that, since it’s public, he shouldn’t even have to ask my permission.
He remained my tutor until I graduated high school in 2005. He also was the one arranging for me to go to the blindness training center after graduation, even though he full on knew this meant I couldn’t go to university right away then.
Sadly, about a year after my graduation, my now former tutor was diagnosed with cancer. He did live for another about ten years and did make it to the reunion in celebration of my high school existing 100 years in 2013. I, though, did not. My tutor died in 2016.
I am not sure whether my tutor felt I was a good writer per se. He might have thought, like my parents did during my teens, that I was overly self-centered in my writing. If he did though, he didn’t say so. In any case, he was one of the people who, whether he wanted to or not, influenced me to be a regular blogger.