Gerald Helland.com


My Inspiration

The reason I became a writer is my love for books and for telling stories. I have to thank two people for making that possible. The first is my late Grandfather Robert Elliott. He was the story teller in our family. I remember sitting with him as a boy listening to him telling one of his stories--holding on to every word as I traveled with him in my mind to a far away place. So I say thank you Grandpa for all the wonderful stories and for helping me to never stop dreaming.

The other person I must thank is the late Mary C. Burnell. When I first met Mary, she was living in my mother's adult foster care home. She was a retired school teacher who wrote a pictorial history on Port Huron and St. Clair River. It is a wonderful book about our area. When she met me I was nineteen years old, and I could hardly read or write. I had no self-confidence. I just thought I wasnít smart enough to learn.

It all started when I was a young boy going to school. I was so shy I wouldnít ask any questions in class. As a result,  I fell behind and never caught up. I was put in a class for children with learning disabilities. For me, it didnít do much good.  I felt embarrassed about being in the class. I thought I didnít measure up to the other children. I was never passed to the next grade; I was always placed. That was the way they promoted children who couldnít get the grades to pass. It was no different in high school. I went to a vocational school called the Skill Center where I took the Foods program. One day I was talking to one of the teachers, and I noticed the class list in his hand. I saw that my name had a "H" by it. I asked him what it meant. He told me it was because I was handicapped. Thus, you see why I felt the way I did. But that all changed when I met Mary Burnell. She made me believe in myself, and for the first time in my life I felt I was smart enough to learn. I started reading small childrens books and before long, I could read as well as anyone else. It is the love that I have for books that made me want to write. I believe Mary and my grandfather put me on the right path in life. Who would have ever believed the boy from the resource room would grow up and become a writer?