Tribute to Linda

By Davida Dodson and Gary Webster

This website is the creation of and a tribute to Linda Rome. We met Linda in September of 1997 at the Willoughby School of Fine Arts where she taught creative writing. Linda had a very positive style of teaching which encouraged creativity. For example, she introduced writing affirmations that were intended to undo some of the damage that had been done to our "inner writer" by unthinking and unremarkable teachers who had stifled our self esteem regarding writing. Writing classes included prompts that highlighted exploration of ordinary things such as a paper clip; extraordinary things such as writing a mystery, and familiar experiences, such as writing a memoir about family and friends.

In tribute to Linda, we interviewed Alan, her husband of approximately 25 years, who shared her biographical information. Linda was born in Willoughby, Ohio. Her grandfather, a surgeon, attended the birth in her grandmother's house. She attended Willoughby South High School and graduated from Hiram College. While at Hiram, Linda majored in English literature and German literature. One summer, she studied in Freiberg, Germany, and continued to maintain contact with the friends that she made there all of her life.

Next, Linda attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned her Master of Library Science. It was in Austin that she met her husband, Alan Rome, also a student of library science. Linda's first job was at Houston-Tilliston College where she was in charge of the media center. This college was predominantly African-American and an interesting learning experience for the times, the seventies, and for her development as a young professional.

While in Houston, Linda became part of her first writers group. She wrote for the Houston Poets, who received national recognition for their work. With regard to Linda's development as a writer, she wrote poetry at first. But, as Linda began writing more, she began working on short stories and novels. She also wrote professionally for the Catholic News Service for a number of years. Linda wrote 17 columns a year on the topic of "Coming of Age" targeted for the moral and spiritual concerns of teenagers.

Linda was also the editor of the magazine Ohio Writer at the same time she taught writing at Fine Arts. Also at Fine Arts, Linda taught memoir classes as well as creative writing. And we must not forget that Linda worked as a librarian for the Middlefield Library and Lake Catholic High School.

During the last year of her life, Linda started the website Keep Writing with her son, Andrew. The site began in December of 2000. Her purpose was to allow her student-writers to have a forum for their work. Linda had published poems and journal articles, in addition to her monthly columns for the local Catholic diocese. At the time of her death, she was working on her second novel.

When we asked Alan what was her favorite creation, he told us it was whatever she was writing at the present time. Linda was as excited by the process of writing and creativity as anyone we have ever known. And what makes her teaching especially meaningful to us is that Linda was able to critique and be constructive with her student's writing, but never did so in a way that tore down the artist but rather encouraged her students to keep writing. Keep Writing is the theme of the website and the legacy our group hopes to instill in all writers, young and old, enthusiastic and discouraged, happy and sad.

Thank you, Linda. We will keep writing.


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