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I pulled my first writing journal off of the shelf, hoping to find inspiration from long ago. Started in conjunction with the second, junior college creative writing class I took, the first entries are dated from fall of 1980.

Boy…some of that stuff really sucks!

But all of if wasn’t horrible. Some of the prose is almost palatable, if I say so myself.

The book is about half filled and the last entry is dated 2/23/1986. Marking a key point in my life, that was when I started dating a lovely, young lady who would eventually agree, in terms set forth by the laws of Oregon, to become my better half.

I spent the summer of 1986 doing open-mike comedy at a club called One Main Place in downtown Portland, OR.  Folded and tucked between the dried and brittle pages, I found a photocopy of a newspaper article from The Oregonian which reviewed the comedy scene and the weekly open-mike performances. Near the end of the article, Mr. Phil Smith writes: “Dean Miller also did quite well, while risking some extremely off-color material…”

I guess I should have taken note and started writing satire and erotica.

My first public review

My first public review

That one line of the 20 paragraph article still makes feel good. I gave up the comedy gig to marry my wife (25+ years and going strong!) and moved forward with life.

As I closed the journal a small slip of paper fell from inside. It was a hand written note from the creative writing/poetry professor from Mt. Hood Community College. It reads:

Dean: Your writing shows a lot of potential. The way to keep improving (as you have, even in 10 weeks) is to keep writing in your notebook and to keep reading.

"The teacher's note."

“The teacher’s note.”

Her words, even after more than 30 years, still fires up my writing mojo simply because she personalized my passing grade (an “A” actually,) and encouraged my writing. The note is unsigned and I can’t recall the professor’s name. But her advice is as timeless and important as ever.

I don’t carry my old notebook with me, in fear that I’ll leave it somewhere and lose it. When I’m not at home and need something to push through my pauses in creativity, I pull out the Winter 2011 edition of TROUT magazine which is always in my writing bag. That issue contains my first published piece of writing.

"Inspiration on the go."

“Inspiration on the go.”

Interestingly, that initial step forward leads me back to the hand written note from my college professor.

Though I can never thank her in person, I work to honor her words and continue to write.

When your creative process stagnates, where do you look for inspiration; the past, present or the future?