DUNCAN: Cover to Cover
It takes a village…
I first made the decision to pursue a career in writing during my freshman year at Clinton High. That was the last year spent in the “old” building on North Adair (now Clinton Middle School). Valerie Jones was my English teacher, one of several who encouraged me to consider writing as a profession.
But if I’m being honest, I really made the decision in Nancy Meadors’ business ethics class. We began each day with silent reading, and on Wednesdays, I chose to read one of her class copies of The Clinton Chronicle, and more specifically, “Franklin’s Corner,” by fellow columnist and publisher emeritus, Larry Franklin. While Larry is probably unaware, it was reading his column every week that inspired me to consider becoming a writer one day.
As a member of the marching band, I also remember sitting with my friend, Pat MacDonald, and her husband, Vic, during our third quarter break for home games. And Vic MacDonald sure does love Red Devil football! After each play, my eyes were on him as he interjected with the rest of the crowd, before quickly scribbling in his reporter’s notebook. I doubt he knew it at the time, but it was observing Vic’s passion for his job that inspired me to consider becoming a writer one day.
Lander University recently held its 159th commencement, and as a staff writer, I had the chance to observe my alma mater’s proceedings behind the scenes. In the student robing room, I watched as members of the mass communications faculty popped in to offer their personal congratulations to the graduates of their program one last time before they walked across the stage and into the real world. Seeing this connection between teachers and pupils reminded me to be thankful for the individual attention and nourishment I, too, received at Lander.
I’ve matured a great deal since those days reading “Franklin’s Corner” in Mrs. Meadors’ classroom. From Kim Windsor’s “Rescue English 9-1-1” to Dr. Jameson’s creative nonfiction workshops, my fellow classmates and I learned that, like all other professions, writing takes practice, perseverance and hard work.
Now, I’m here with my own monthly column for The Clinton Chronicle, and I’m dedicating it to all those who’ve ever played a role in helping young people realize their own gifts and talents. Some are teachers. Some are working professionals. And some are completely unaware of how impactful their actions are on a young person’s life.
I’m quite sure that, if you gave it some thought, you could name one person for every finger and every toe who has inspired you, motivated you or encouraged you to be the very best at what you do. You might even be one of those for a young person right now.
In future editions of “Cover to Cover,” I plan on doing a few book reviews, interviews with authors and poets, and perhaps a personal story or two. But for my very first, I must pay tribute to those who, in some way, made it possible. That list was certainly not exhausted in my 600-word limit, but the rest of them know who they are.
It takes a village to raise a child; I’m grateful my village was this one.
(Graham Duncan is a graduate of Clinton High and Lander University. He works as a staff writer at Lander, and is pursuing a master’s at Converse College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)