Hello from lovely Deep Creek, Maryland. While the annual retreat kicks off tomorrow, today P.J. and I nailed down final preparations. It’s been fun catching up with her, and we’re both excited for the activities to begin.
Today as we make last-minute tweaks and go over the agenda, I got to thinking back over my years living this writer’s life, and a certain cowboy came to mind. A guy by the name of Dusty Richards, author of westerns and winner of two Spur Awards, taught me a lot about what it means to be a writer. For one thing, he never stops learning. Here’s a man who has published over a hundred books with major publishing houses, and yet I’d see him at conferences, standing in the back of the room, taking notes as authors so much less accomplished than he taught classes.
He’d also try new things, like enter contests for genres that were out of his comfort zone. Back when I knew him he was actively trying to win the romance book category with his chapter excerpt, outline, and synopsis.
He’s also quick to help other writers. I knew several people who handed him a chapter, and he’d get it back to them, marked up with good suggestions to improve their work. He’d take the time to go over it with them. He spoke to our group on several occasions, never taking anything for speaking engagements. He’d go out of his way to encourage fledgling writers, work to promote conferences, talk up other authors.
A friend and I once had the privilege of spending the night at his home. I remember he showed me his library of western history. It was a closet with shelves, and every inch of it was filled with books. When my friend and I traveled with him and his wife Pat to a conference that year, he told us stories from his vast knowledge of frontier and western history. I’d heard he’d also taught college courses on the subject.
Living this writer’s life all these years, I’ve met my share of writers and then some. I’ve met talented people and people with more conceit than talent. I’ve met stingy, selfish people, and I’ve met kind, caring, encouraging writers. Dusty is the cream of the crop. The best of the best.
As I go over my notes for class, I think of his example. I want to make a difference in the life of writers. Like Dusty made a difference in mine.
Is there a writer who has inspired you? Tell us about it in the comments.