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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