Bienvenue, Wilkomen!

*Scratches the microphone* Is anybody out there?

So I decided to join the 21st century and start a blog. Let’s face it — if I’m going to claim that I’m a writer, I have to have a blog, right? It’s practically a requirement. Writers, you know, write. All the time. To keep their metaphorical pencils sharp, or something.

I’m actually finding it quite freeing to write in a blog format. I don’t have to spend 30 minutes trying to come up with the perfect word or wondering why the English language doesn’t have a serviceable synonym for “eye”. I think my fifth grade English teacher called this style of writing “stream of consciousness.”

Speaking of English teachers, whenever I look at my completed manuscript for Paladin, I can’t help but think of two college professors who had a very significant impact on my writing “career”, although I doubt they know it.

One professor — who shall remain nameless — taught me creative fiction my junior year of college. Now, mind you, I was a Poly Sci major and just wanted to take the class for fun. I always thought I had a story in me, and here was the perfect chance to find out. Besides, all of my previous teachers had always praised my writing, and I was convinced it would be an easy A.

Wrong. I got the first B I have ever received on a writing assignment — a short story about a good girl named Sam (I really like the name Sam) who goes horribly bad. Now, you might be thinking, You’re whinging about a B? That’s not so bad. In fact, that’s pretty damn good. And had this been a math class, I’d fully agree with you. Heck, I’d be gloating about it. But I’m miserable at math, and writing has always been my thing. How the heck could the professor have given me a B?

So I asked her about it. She said things back to me like, “Uninspired” and “boring”, and finally: “Maybe you should stick to nonfiction.” 

Ouch. That pretty much squelched my dreams of becoming the next J.K. Rowling.

But then I had another professor my senior year, the very talented John Bresland, who taught my Creative Nonfiction class. I wrote an essay for him entitled “Leave it to the Slaters”, which essentially explained why I could never become a writer (you can read it here if you’re curious). In short, I lacked the tortured soul that is requisite of an artist. I should probably also mention that the previous story I submitted for that class was about going to the bathroom. The first line of that piece of brilliance was: “I think it was Aristotle who first said, ‘Girls don’t poop’.”

So after every assignment we completed for that class, we had a one-on-one meeting with the professor to talk about how we can improve our work. And the first thing he asked me was just about the last thing I expected: “What are your plans for the future?”
I just said, “Huh?” It was a sensitive subject; I was a senior in college, after all, and graduation was a couple months away.
“You want to be a writer, right?”
I literally laughed in his face. “Oh no, nothing like that. I’m thinking about going into the health field.”
“Oh”. It was a really surprised oh. Like he couldn’t believe it. And then he said something that I will never forget: “If you don’t have a career that lets you write, you’re going to be miserable for the rest of your life.”

That was a pretty big statement to make, and I took it to heart. My job — public relations — is truly a great career for a writer. I write every day – client emails, pitches, proposals, press releases, and if I’m lucky, I get to ghostwrite an article or speech. But never in a million years did I think I’d write — and complete — a novel. And I honestly don’t think I would have had the courage to try if Professor Bresland  hadn’t said what he said to me.

Whatever may come of Paladin, whether it gets published or just stays on Wattpad, I owe John Bresland thanks. So, thanks, Professor.