By Susan Harper
I have long wondered what it is about Commerce that seems to foster good writing and good writers – even great writers. I have even wandered around wondering this out loud, hoping someone would jump up and tell me. And in fact a number of theories have been offered to me.
One notion is that we have been blessed here with good — and even great — teachers. Gayle Pritchett’s name comes up a lot in such a discussion. So does Rena Shankle’s, Julia Jones’ and too many others to list: teachers who have given selflessly of their time and talent, often outside of regular school hours, to foster the kind of education and character that it takes to be a writer of note.
Also, we are located a half-hour from one of America’s great journalism schools, and are blessed by the general fallout (literacy, opportunities for advancement, exposure to unusual people, access to special activities) that comes with proximity to a prominent university. Plus (and it is a plus) we are in the South, a part of the country that arguably was left to its own devices for about a hundred years — long enough to create and nurture a culture all its own, full of quirks, deep-seated problems, and a powerful sense of the spiritual side of life.
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