Without some early encouragement, how many of us would have continued to write, to draw, to cut up books for collage, to sculpt, to experiment with cooking, with hair dye or make-up? Praise may have been scanty, but had there been none at all, who would have persisted?
At 18 I had more or less given up on writing. But moving away from my home town, to Indianapolis, I found that I missed one particular young lady friend. So I wrote Kara a longish letter. In her reply, she told me that she had loved the letter, had laughed out loud, and even had read parts of it to her father. Her praise revived for me the early desire to write poetry. For the next half dozen years, everything I wrote was written with Kara in mind, as my intended audience. I'm sure I never told her, but in my mind I knew myself to be a writer because she had told me that I was.
W. H. Davies, about whom I've posted before, likewise relied on an early patron. Here is his account, taken from "The Autobiography Of A Super-Tramp."
It was in the second year of my apprenticeship that I met a young woman living in a small village adjoining this town of my birth, who was very clever, a great reader of fine literature; and it was to her hands, after I had enjoyed her conversation on several occasions, that I submitted a small composition of my own. Her encouragement at that early time has been the star on which these eyes have seldom closed, by which I have successfully navigated the deeps of misery, pushing aside Drink, my first officer, who many a day and many a night endeavored to founder me. She was the first to recognize in my spirit something different from mere cleverness, something she had seen and recognized in her books, but had never before met in a living person. I had known her only six months when she died, but her words of encouragement have been ringing in my ears ever since they were uttered.
Who encouraged you early on, and helped you to pursue your given art?