I’ve forgotten the names of my English teachers,
but I hope someone can remind me of them.
I enjoyed Shakespeare and Chaucer, Pope and
Dryden, but I also enjoyed learning the history of
England and the various literary periods and
outstanding writers of those periods.
I especially liked the Romantics—Byron, Shelley
and Keats. One of the joys of my later years
were the trips our daughter Kathy gave us to
England in 1996 and to Rome in 2001 where we
visited sites associated with those writers.
I discovered that, no matter what the topic, you
write to discover who you are, why you are, and
what made you that way. To tell stories is to slit
yourself open in front of the world, sharing what
you've figured out and hoping that maybe
somebody else can find something from that
sometimes painful process that's helpful to them.
I’ve always loved to study and learn. But I’ve
only recently figured out that what I studied in
college was the best thing possible for me.
I had a combined major in English literature
and journalism. I did it at the time because I
loved both subjects, but it prepared me to be
able to support myself all my life—writing
publicity, editing magazines and writing
books—at a time before many women even
thought of such a thing.
It gave me exposure to both commercial and
literary writing, to analyzing and writing clearly
while still hearing the beauty and the
cadence of the words.
Heber Taylor was the chairman of the
journalism department at ACU at the time,
and he and my boss Reg Westmoreland
taught all the classes. Heber was a quiet
teacher, patiently explaining the rudiments of
the craft to students who knew less than they
thought they did. Reg was the consummate
working journalist, turning out copy and
marking up mine.
They not only taught me to write, they let me
write--publicity for the college, articles for the
Optimist, even a regular column about the
college for the Abilene Reporter-News.