By the time I was seven I couldn’t get enough of the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene (Carolyn Keene may have been an amalgam of many writers, but so what…it worked!).  Nancy was my heroine.  A pretty high school teenager who not only drove her own car but solved mysteries as well.  She had a boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, and two loyal bffs.  She had no mother but lived with her father and a housekeeper, both of whom she could wrap around her little finger.  What a great role model for an over-protected somewhat shy little girl.  My imagination flew to a time in the future when I, too, could be pretty and self-sufficient, and unafraid.  I wrote my first story then, with the heroine based on a combination of Nancy and myself, learning I could use my thoughts to entertain and capture the imagination of others.

In my early teen years I added another role model, Connan Doyle’s incomparable Sherlock Holmes.  He was a hero worthy of praise as he approached solving mysteries from a scientific point of view.  Studying everything from cigarette ash to strands of hair to the psychological workings of criminal minds, he piqued my interest in the sciences.  But it was from his side-kick, Dr. Watson, that I learned how to put into words all aspects of a story.  Arthur Connan Doyle was himself a combination of Holmes and Watson, which gives us an interesting insight into the characters he created.  

We all put a bit of ourselves into our writing.  Sometimes we reveal hidden feelings and sometimes project the person we wish to be.  We mentally ingest each role model and they become part of who we eventually are:  the outgoing Nancy Drew, the knowledge seeking Sherlock Holmes, half a dozen of Shakespeare’s characters, even Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.  They become us and we become them. 

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The power of the written word must never be scoffed at.  Used judiciously it can elevate people to great personal heights or, conversely, denigrate them to feel lower than low.  The truth of the pen being greater than the sword is self evident.  A sword can run through you and kill you only once, but sharp words will remain in your mind and torture you forever.  We can erase them from paper but never expunge them from our memories.

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