Yesterday, I did something I was planning to do for a while.
I went back into my high school.
Upon creating my acknowledgements page for my second book, I tried to think of everyone that helped me along on my journey to publishing. One person leapt into mind and I couldn’t believe I forgot to mention him in the first book.
My high school history teacher.
I had a hard time in high school. I was diagnosed with lyme disease in the beginning of my junior year. Unfortunately, it appeared that I had it for quite sometime before it was found. For years, I had painful neurologic complications and was always so tired. It was a struggle to get up every morning, let alone be on time for school. I missed a lot of early classes and some teachers were insulted by it.
But not this history teacher.
One day he started the class off by saying that someone forgot to put their name on an assignment and he handed out everyone’s to find out who it was. Once all the papers were handed out, he saw that I didn’t get mine back and I was so embarrassed to be the one who spaced out like that. I reached for my paper so that he would move on with the class so everyone would stop staring at me. But then he held the paper up and told everyone that my paper was the best thing he’s ever read from a student and this is what he expected when he handed out an assignment.
I couldn’t believe it. My mortification only deepened as he proceeded to read it aloud to the class!
The assignment was to imagine that you were one of the early settlers of America and to write a journal entry trying to explain an event during that time.
My teacher (who also had a dramatic flair) stopped after every other sentence, oohing and ahhing. After he finished, he told the class that I was going to be a writer someday.
Well, after the class returned to normal and their envious eyes went back to the chalk board, his words sunk in and I beamed inside.
I still have that paper. I have frequently pulled it out of my memorabilia box and I’m so thankful that he wrote the same comments he proclaimed to the class all over the whole piece. He even wrote the words, “I have no doubt that you will be an amazing writer someday.”
How could I have forgotten to thank him in my first book? Especially since my series is so much like that assignment; the series where I imagined experiencing historic events or people first hand. He gave me the confidence that I could attempt to pull off such a thing.
He was always such an enthusiastic teacher and everyone loved him. No matter if they were the top of the class or someone who was struggling. He loved history and he loved his students. So many teachers burned out, but this teacher put on a show every class. Trying to pull all his students into the love of history with the littlest details. I remember he even gave students partial credit on tests if they came up with something amusing in reply, instead of leaving the answer blank. He was a wonderful, wonderful teacher.
Acknowledging him in my book was not enough.
I knew he would never find my book on his own so I ordered a copy of each book and enclosed a letter to him. I decided to hand deliver my package to be sure he was still at the same school. It was so surreal to walk back through my high school doors. A few times I almost turned around because a voice in my head tried to talk me out of the whole thing. I felt like that delinquent student all over again, rushing in to try to make part of my morning classes.
The main office wasn’t in the same place.
Good—the voice said inside me—you can’t find the office, so just go home.
But I walked a little further and saw a small office. I took a breath and walked in.
I asked, “Does (teacher’s name) still teach here?”
“Yes.” She appeared wary.
Then I remembered how schools now have security measures in place for disgruntled students and what did I say?…
“I was a student of his and just wanted to thank him.” I handed her the heavy, bomb-sized package.
She quickly looks me up and down, trying to find any sign of danger, but slowly reaches her hands up for the package once she takes in my yoga uniform and thrown-together motherly vibe. If I didn’t have time to brush my hair, clearly I didn’t have time to make a pipe-bomb.
Her still, awkward stare pressed the urgent need for me to explain more.
“I wrote a couple of books and thanked him in my acknowledgements…” Ugh, I’m talking too much, just stop! “I just wanted to give him a copy.”
She nodded in partial acceptance and I turned and briskly walked out, like I just picked up my class absence pass.
I practically ran to my car, slowly re-emerging as the thirty-something mother of two that I am. I didn’t even stop at the student guard station. I just waved to the man, who waved back (I must look thirty from just a glance in the car!).
Anyway, I told you this long story not only to validate this amazing teacher, but also to cause you to think about all those who helped you feel confident about your writing. Think way back to your formative years and I’d love for you to tell me about them in the comments…and don’t forget to thank them in your first (next) book!