The Coolest Thing I've Ever Done (Besides Publish A Book)

Some of you who follow me on Facebook might have seen my post about speaking to one of my former teacher's creative writing classes. I've been busy writing but today I really wanted to delve into why this was such an incredible experience for me. 

First off -- belief and support are fickle things. You could have a fantastic support system and yet, you can feel like no one truly understands you or your dreams. It's extremely difficult for family and friends to see all the heart and soul you're pouring into something until they can physically hold your dream in their hands. But there are certain people at certain points in your life where they just get you. They do. They understand where you are going and what you're meant to do with your life. I learned early on that school was "my thing." You know, that one thing that everyone is really good at. School was that for me. It came fairly easy for me, I enjoyed it for the most part and I was a great student. But as I've explained so many times before, writing and reading has also always been "my thing." But it's intangible compared to school. You study >> get good grade on test >> get good grade in class >> boom. You have solid physical evidence of what you're good at. But writing doesn't work like that. Neither does reading. With reading... my form of being good at it didn't come until I started blogging about the books I was reading. With writing, it's an evolving process. 

Anyway. I had a few defining moments in high school when a couple of teachers changed my life. Through the things they were teaching, assigning and grading, they saw things in me that I couldn't see for myself. One of those teachers I became extremely close to in high school. She was an energetic bundle of joy and taught class the way all teachers should -- like she was meant to be there. Like she'd been preparing her entire life to lead a classroom full of students. That's why so many former students of hers love her. 

I received these comments on a short story I wrote for her creative writing class and it's a paper I've kept and gone back to so many times over the years because it's inspiring. It's so hard not to look at those comments and feel anything but blessed. 

That's why I put her and some of the other teachers in the acknowledgements. They had a hand in shaping who I am, what kind of writer I am and the desire to inspire others as they've inspired me. 

But enough about her. 

I want to talk about the classes. I had NO idea what to expect when I got there. I think back to when I was in high school and besides the overwhelming sense of dread and the shuddering I feel, I remember a lot of the time I was apathetic in my classes other than English or Writing classes. I know these aren't everyones favorite subjects so I could imagine there would be a few students who didn't care that I was there. And that was a correct assumption. There were a few students who looked like they couldn't be bothered by my talking for another minute and some who just looked bored. I don't blame ya there, kids. 

But what WAS surprising was the way the ones who were interested actually listened. Asked questions. Looked like they had a million ideas rolling around in their heads. They were me when I was their age. Some of them asked brilliant questions and I realized how much I enjoyed spreading the passion I have for reading and writing. I realized how much talent these students possess. I wanted to scoop them in my arms and tell them to never let life beat them down. To stay bright-eyed and dream-like for the rest of their lives because life is hard. Life is mean. Life is a bitch. It will knock you on your ass every chance it gets. But it can be so beautiful. 

So. Damn. Beautiful.

Some of the students were adorable when they veered away from writing and wanted to know things about my personal life. I'm not a shy person and I loved sharing little tid bits about my life and my full time job. That's another thing I made sure to get across -- that just because you're good at writing, doesn't mean you have to write a book. There are plenty of brilliant writers out there who have never written a novel or who never will. It's not their thing. They enjoy journalistic writing or memoirs. They like being paid to write. (Don't we all?) But when I told them that everyday I wake up and I get to go to a company that allows me to do what I love everyday, you should have seen their faces. They were like, "really?" I just smiled and said, "yes, really." 

There's so much negative energy in this world, I really wanted my experience there to be a positive shining reminder of what can happen when you work really hard and you believe in yourself. But that's kind of a lie, isn't it? I sure as hell don't believe in myself 100% of the time. I'm not sure I even believe in myself 50% of the time. I'm where I'm at today because I was extremely lucky to have those people in my life who believe in me more than I believed in myself. Former teachers. Former professors. Family. Friends. My husband. Without them -- there would be no me as an author. There would only be me as a writer. Me as someone who watches from the sidelines as other people do what I want to do. What I know I was born to do. 

Above everything, I wanted my experience to showcase what passion is all about. Because the bottom line is this -- people do NOT stick with things that are hard, things that make you cry and pull your hair out, things that cause you sleep deprivation and chronic illnesses for fun. They do it because they are passionate about it. They do it because it's in their blood. They do it because there are no other options except TO do it. I wanted those students to know that sometimes, passion can take you further than anything else in this world. It's what landed me my job. It's what pushed me to finish and publish my novel. It's my greatest strength. 

And that's why talking to those classes was the coolest thing I've ever done. I think I was able to give them a bit of the same passion and hope I received when I was their age. I was able to remind myself of things I've accomplished and where my passion has led me.

And that, my friends, is so freaking cool.