author Ashley Blooms thanks HCTC professor
Many teachers don’t know the impact they have had on their students, but Ashley Blooms of Leslie County wanted the late Scott Lucero to know how much his influence had on her success as a published writer. After his death in 2019, the Hazard Community and Technical College English professor was thanked for his support by Blooms, when her book Every Bone a Prayer named Scott Lucero first in her list of acknowledgements.
Blooms was a student in Lucero’s creative writing classes around 2007-2009. At that time, she was a first-generation college student. “I was completely unsure of what I was doing, struggling in almost every way, though I knew even then that I wanted to write. But I had also spent my whole life in poverty and was scrambling to buy books for class or gas to get to campus, wondering if I had a future at all, let alone a future as a writer. I felt like I had to do something that would give me more financial stability, even if it broke my heart. That’s why I planned to pursue a degree in psychology,” Blooms said.
The published author appreciated those days when she was in Professor Lucero’s classes. “In Scott’s class, I could get a reprieve from all that hardship. I could write, which was the thing that connected me most to myself and to the world. I could explore, try new things. Scott encouraged all of that,” she said.
Blooms appreciated Lucero because he encouraged her to submit to the college’s literary magazine, Kudzu. “He wanted me to read widely, to write endlessly. He made me feel like I could be a writer long before I believed it myself,” she remembers.
“The thing that I remember most about Scott’s presence as a teacher was just how present he really was. There was a joy in the way Scott spoke, a playfulness that put people at ease. He seemed so utterly unafraid to write about things that other people might find shocking, so unafraid of himself, which was baffling to me, because I’d spent so much of my life in fear—I’d grown up in a violent home, had fought for everything I’d earned, and I think I expected the world to be difficult. I even expected writing to be difficult. I was ready to prove myself, over and over again, but I never had to prove myself to Scott. When I expected life to be hard, Scott showed me tenderness instead. When I was braced for the worst, he invited me to see the best in myself and in other people. He opened the door to joy, curiosity, strangeness, delicacy, darkness. He welcomed everything into the classroom, into our work. Scott showed me that I could write myself out of darkness and into something sweeter, and in doing so, make a place for other people to do the same,” Blooms said.
Blooms is glad that she allowed Lucero to read portions of the novel Every Bone a Prayer. “We had talked about it extensively—especially my fears, struggles, and breakthroughs during the writing process—but he never got to see the book in print, or to read the message I wrote to him in the Acknowledgments. I like to think that he knew, anyway, just how important he was to my process,” she said.
There are many aspiring writers around and Blooms offers advice. “Be gentle with yourself. Writing can be a hard, and often lonely, process. When you can, find other writers to form community with. Support them in their victories and their stumbles and allow yourself to be supported in return. You don’t have to go it alone.”
At age 33, Blooms continues to write. Her second novel, Where I Can’t Follow, will be published by Sourcebooks early next year. To find an excerpt from the new novel at Still: The Journal: http://www.stilljournal.net/ashley-blooms-fiction2021.php
She is convinced that Professor Lucero would continue to be proud.