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Reflections on a Winslow Homer Painting

But that painting, “Snap the Whip,” was more than a sanity-maintainer for me. It reminded me of three special people: my grandfather, my father, and teacher-author Jesse Stuart.

Finally, the painting reminds me of Jesse Stuart, who began teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in which he struggled to teach his students not only the daily lessons of the curriculum but also, and more importantly, the life lesson that learning is critical to success in any and all life endeavors. One of the ways he instilled that principle in his students was by using games to make the lessons fun. Even the most tedious work can become tolerable if one can make a game of it.

All of Stuart’s writing success came as a result of his having a dream and refusing to give up on it. It all began when he took to heart one of his college professor’s advice: “Go back to your people. Go back and write of them. Don’t change and follow the moods of these times. Be your honest self. Go back and write of your country. Your country has your material.” (You can read the full account in my articles “The Beloved Country,” The Writer, April 2016, “Rediscovering the Children’s Books of Jesse Stuart, Christian Library Journal, Winter 2000.)

As writers, we should take our inspiration wherever it comes and continue to mine those depths to the fullest. Homer’s painting is a constant reminder to me of three rich “veins” of inspiration for me: my grandfather, my father, and Jesse Stuart, all exemplars for me.

What is your “mother lode” of inspiration?

#writing #teachers #teaching #exemplars #writers #initiative #advice #education #books #publishing #editing #heritage #perseverance

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