Appreciating a Former Mentor

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Professor Wiley

“Your principal weakness is your style.”

So wrote my professor at Emory, Dr. Bell Wiley, in his critique of my paper for his Civil War class back in the fall of 1968. (I wrote on “Price’s Missouri Raid of 1864”; I got a B.)

But that’s not why I’ve saved my paper—which was pretty closely marked up by the professor’s red pencil—all of these years. It’s because through it, Dr. Wiley continues to urge me to hone my writing skills, my powers of expression.

That’s the sense of gratitude and admiration I sought to express in my column, “The Bell Irvin Wiley Reader” for the new issue of Civil War News.

I guess it goes to show that you never stop thinking about, or thanking, the important people in your life.

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One Response to Appreciating a Former Mentor

  1. Theodore Savas says:

    Very good observation here, Steve. Having read hundreds of authors in my line of work and published many hundreds of books, I have told that to a few writers. The truth is 4 of 5 need that advice because in my opinion, you don’t come of age UNTIL you find your style, your voice, your pacing and cadence and rhythm and depth. It all goes together.

    Bell W was a wise man.

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