For All the Teachers.
It’s the first week back at school (or will be soon) for a lot of kids around the country, so I thought I would dedicate this post to the teachers who encouraged me to pursue writing. My mom is a teacher and I do a lot of volunteering in schools, so I have a lot of respect for the work teachers do. They have the power to change kids’ lives in ways that they probably don’t even know about. How many of us go back to elementary school and explain to teachers that we wouldn’t be the person we are now if they hadn’t done that one thing? So, I know none of them probably read this, but from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
My 8th grade English teacher used to slip me books. Sure, she assigned the typical list of required reading books, but she brought me materials that were far above an 8th grade level. She introduced me to Ken Follett. More importantly, she introduced me to the wide range of adult books that were available. One of our big assignments for the year was to write a novella (looking back, I’m pretty sure it was actually a short story). I slaved over mine. I wrote in every spare minute that I could find and finished earlier than anyone else. She noticed and pushed me to keep writing and even chose me to atend a district wide creative writing seminar. The days I spent at that seminar were some of the best days of my jr. high life. Not only did I meet a really cute boy, but I learned a lot about craft and about myself as a writer. When my mom asked me why I wanted to major in creative writing, I told her to blame this teacher.
My college advisor never pushed me. He always used to say that things just happened. It was in his creative non-fiction class that I first had the chance to reflect on a number of events in my life. Writing about them changed me and changed the way I looked at my life. When I went to him during my freshman year freaked out that I had chosen to major in two disciplines that did not lead down a direct career path, he told me that I could switch to journalism if I wanted to. He really stressed the want part though. What did I really want to do? I wanted to write books, not newspaper articles. He helped me get my first piece of work published in a magazine, the pages of which are proudly displayed on his wall. I could never tell him what I ended up writing (he is 75 year old priest), but I know that he would be supportive anyway.
Who are the teachers in your life that inspired you to write?