Thanks, Mr. Enright by Susan R. Hughes

Awesome hair 1989

The other day I came across my old high-school yearbook. Leafing through it, I found an inscription by my grade 12 Creative Writing teacher, Mr. Enright:

Susan, do not let time force you into non-productivity. You have a message someone needs to see in your writing. Remember me when you’re famous.

High school wasn’t easy for me. Painfully shy and awkward, I fell victim to the “mean girls” in my grade. I found refuge in music (on my Walkman) and creative writing (typed on my Atari computer). My goal was to write young adult novels; I wrote the first few chapters of quite a few but never finished any. For Creative Writing class I decided to write a novella encompassing the whole spectrum of teen angst: alcoholism, drugs, child abuse, first love, sex, none of which I’d experienced myself! It was terribly over the top, and I never did finish it. Nonetheless, I had to present it to the class—my worst nightmare.

I got through the presentation, and when I spoke to Mr. Enright about how terrifying it had been, he said: “The class was in awe. You’ve created this whole world from your imagination.” I’m not sure the class was really all that impressed, but he did sum up what I loved, and still love, about writing.

He was also right about time. After high school I got my English degree, took a publishing course, became a proofreader then an editor, married my sweetheart and started having kids. Writing went to the back burner. When I finally completed a novel, it wasn’t a teen story but an adult romance. It took over a decade but I had found my genre.

I may not be famous yet, but I will never forget the teacher who saw potential in my writing and took the time to encourage me to continue. His words mean just as much to me now as they did then.

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9 thoughts on “Thanks, Mr. Enright by Susan R. Hughes

  1. Oh, that brought tears to my eyes. Teachers have such an impact on our lives. The good ones will never leave our hearts. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Any chance Mr. Enright is still on this side of the grass? Any chance of finding him? It would be fun to catch up and let him know what you are doing. I’ll bet, he’d be thrilled.
    E.

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  2. I was just at my class reunion and only one of our old teachers was there, but EVERYONE wanted to talk to him most of all! Teachers have so much more influence than they realize sometimes–and in my experience, mostly for the good!
    Great post to remind us all about those inspirational teachers, Susan.

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  3. I greatly enjoyed your post Susan. Your teacher’s prediction came right. You write beautifully and you’re famous in our writing world. No one encouraged me to write. My father– a writer himself– tried his best to keep me away from writing. “Writing doesn’t feed a man,” he kept repeating. “You have to go toward science.”

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  4. Susan, great inspiration from your teacher. So many teachers never know how they affect children’s lives. There are also some horror stories out there too! Thank goodness your teacher saw your potential and you followed through with writing into your future! Great post.

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  5. Dear Susan,
    It’s so wonderful that you had a teacher who spoke to the creativity within and helped you make it come alive. Teachers like Mr. Enright make H.S. bearable for the majority of us for whom it was not always comfortable. I’m sure he’d love to know you’re writing and you continue to be inspired by him. Thanks for sharing your story and the inspiration.
    Leigh

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