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A friend once told me, "Nothing ruins a bird but its beak." It wasn't until Judith told me that the biggest mistakes a writer can make are (a) talking about what he or she is writing and (b) having another person review his or her work that I realized the true meaning of that phrase.

Judith taught me to trust my instincts and to realize that writing comes from within. Writing is not like buying a new pair of shoes or a car or even a house. A true writer comes from the heart and doesn't worry about hurt feelings or how the writing will be construed. A true writer doesn't care what other people think.

Judith's creed was "read, read, read." I, like Judith, learned to read when I was four. She said that if you aren't a good reader, you won't be a good writer. And to be particular about what you read. While I do fall prey to the occasional summer chick lit, I read more nonfiction since taking "Ms. Moore's Writing 101."

When I sit down to write, the first thing I do is put on the black flax floods from Judith (for inspiration), and I make sure that no one else is around except for my dog Puffy, and I never discuss what I'm working on with anyone. In fact, I get this weird cheap "thrill" when my sister, after reading my byline in the paper, calls me up and says, "You didn't tell me you were working on this!"

However, my greatest lessons in writing were learned near the end of Judith's life, when she graciously allowed me to sit at her feet and watch her work. This meant sitting very quietly, with Lily the dachshund nearby, as Judith's head did its thing and her fingers flew on the computer.

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