Who’s Your Hero?

By Alton Gansky
Athletes have heroes. Business execs have heroes. Christians
have spiritual heroes. So it’s no surprise that writers have heroes. But what
makes someone a hero to a writer? Sure, there are successful writers we admire,
but are they heroes? There are wordsmiths whose prose is so smooth, emotive,
and powerful that any serious writer would be impressed. Does success or skill
a writing hero make? 
I suggest not.
The champions have in mind might not even be writers. Many
of us, perhaps all of us, have at least one person who helped us down the road
of publication. Perhaps the person encouraged us, or pushed us, or educated us,
or (as in my case) put a boot to our fanny.
I’ve told the story many times. It’s a story that never
fails to move me. I had written a novel but had no idea what I was doing. I got
one rejection from a pay-to-read-agent (I said
I didn’t know what I was doing) and shelved the project. I shelved it for five
years. Half a decade!
Then the great Jack Cavanaugh called. We had a friendly
competition going on. I won round one when a small magazine published a little
article I wrote. He won the contest when he scored a multi-novel contract. The American Family Portrait Series would
expand to eight volumes. Other books 
would follow. Yep, he won in a big way. He
kept trying when I had given up.
Then he did something. We chatted on the phone for a while
and I was truly happy for him. Not so pleased with myself, but happy for him.
He asked, “So, what are you working on?” I begged off by mentioning my pressing
ministry work. When he asked again I mentioned family needs. He said he
understood then asked again, “So what are you working on?” It was clear he wasn’t
going to let me hang up, not until I picked up my pen again.
I did.
After reworking my first novel, I placed it with Victor
Books. I’m now over twenty years and about fifty works—fiction and nonfiction—down
the road. All because a hero called me on the phone.
I’ve been teaching at writers conferences for over fifteen
years. There I meet wannabe writers, so of whom have real talent. I have also
met those on the brink of quitting. Writing is difficult, challenging, learned
over time, full of rejection, and, at times, able to cramp the little gray
cells. Over the years, I’ve had a few people contact me to tell me they had
been ready to chuck it all but stayed with it because someone said the right
thing to keep them in the game.
I’m betting you have someone like that in your writing life.
I’d like to hear the story. Did someone talk you out of giving up? Provided
tricks of the trade that turned you into a real author? Did someone inspire you
by their life story? Did someone tell you that you had the “chops” to be a
writer even though you were sure you were just a hack? If so, then you have a
The reminder here is that we all needed heroes and now we
need to be heroes to those just outside the gate.
So, who moved you? Changed you? Empowered you? Kicked you in
the fanny? Who helped push you down the path to publication?

Alton Gansky is a writer and podcaster and, hopefully, an occasional
hero. www.altongansky.com