If you're a screenwriter, or any kind of writer, your talent didn't entirely spring from your fingers full-blown, as if from the head of Zeus. Chances are good someone gave you a little help along the way.
Yesterday was World Teachers' Day, and what this graphic from Grammarly inspired in me was a brief reverie on inspiration. I realized that I couldn't pick one favorite teacher, because so many great teachers had inspired me - had literally changed the course of my thinking, my craft, and my life, over the years.
Geraldine Peterson, Don Dunn, and Edith Gropper at George W. Hewlett High School encouraged me to pursue my creative aspirations. At Indian Hill, in the summer of '68, James Waring helped me find my singing voice and introduced me to both Eastern philosophy and the poetry of Wallace Stevens, while Bob Edelstein opened my eyes to the language of film. The legendary Haig Manoogian (Scorsese's mentor) at NYU Film School showed me how movies were made. Skip Kennon and Maury Yeston at the Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop made me a better songwriter. And my ongoing writing mentor Deena Metzger helped me birth my first novel, and keeps deepening my writing in every form.
I thought about all this without even remembering - I take it for granted by now - that I'm a teacher, myself (though at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, we're called "instructors"). So I guess what also should be acknowledged here is that all of these teachers - especially Deena - taught me how to teach. It's a livelihood that has immeasurably bettered my life, as it's one of the few things I do that makes me feel I can be an actual constructive force in the world.
I'm especially inclined to take notice of World Teachers' Day and the question posed by Grammarly, given the amount of abuse teachers and teachers' unions have had to suffer in our current politically charged environment. As a counterpoint to all that, I encourage you to take a moment to think about the teacher or teachers who've inspired you. Who changed your life?