I was saddened to learn that mystery writer and all-around gentleman Dick Stodghill passed away. I first met Dick at a mini-workshop the Midwest Writers Workshop put on in New Albany. His presentation there literally changed my life.

“Don’t take yourself too seriously,” he said, “but always take your work seriously.” He told us to respect our writing as WORK and to insist on the people who care about us respecting it as work, too. He said we should not giggle and blush or downplay it if we tell people we write, and that we should politely stop people who want to make light of the fact that we write. His talk gave me the courage to think of myself as a professional, even though I hadn’t sold a word, and to present myself to the world as a professional and to resist the just-don’t-get-it attitudes of non-writers that can be so hurtful, especially to someone hoping to make the transition from amateur to professional.

At the first MWW I attended in Muncie, Dick chatted with me about his work with the Pinkertons, told me some great stories about the ‘tec biz, and even read a story I had brought with me. He pointed out its strengths, pointed out its flaws in such a way that I actually felt ENCOURAGED by it, and told me it felt like it needed to be 2500 words–the first I knew that stories had a natural size.

He got me started and kept me going.

Thanks, Dick.

MA

writing prompt: Who got you started thinking of yourself as a “real” writer?

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