I cannot think about high school without one particular teacher popping to mind. I can honestly say she changed my life. In fact, if it weren’t for her, I wouldn't be a writer today. She was my 9th grade English teacher (let's call her Miss Austin) and she really, really didn’t like me.
Miss Austin was a very pretty and very fresh-out-of-college teacher. The boys drooled over and the girls looked at her and thought, "it might be okay to get old (as in, over 20) if I could look like that." Miss Austin wore oversized cardigans with designer heels and enjoyed a perky gang of fangirls who loved her, Mr. Darcy, Volkswagons and all the versions of that song, "Big Yellow Taxi.”
|No offense to Colin Firth. He’s actually quite dishy.|
But I, having never been skilled at the art of pointless adoration, did not belong to this club. Miss Austin did not inspire me to stay after school to discuss, A Tale of Two Cities, for fun. My general sullen disposition along with dark-ish essay topics earned me more than one wrinkled nose and sarcastic comment from her. So, I really should have seen it coming. I should have expected that despite my straight A’s, she wouldn't want my introverted, cynical self in her class the following year. I was denied my one goal: Honor's English. I know, my goals were nerdy even then.
|Ah yes. I got this look a lot.|
When Miss Austin posted the Honors English list, and I wasn't on it, I ended my fantasies of being a writer and resigned myself to plain old English with everyone else. What was the point? If I wasn't good enough for Honors, I certainly wasn't good enough to hack it out there with all those amazing authors who wrote my favorite books. Luckily, my art teacher did like me. I was accepted into the elite "studio track" art classes, and that was that. I was an art girl. Writing was just for fun after that.
But that wasn’t the end of the story, obviously. Eventually, I got over my first true rejection, but it took a long time and a lot of personal growth. The thing is, writing a book is hard. The business of writing is even harder. It takes endurance and an almost obsessive determination to keep going through rejections. To keep learning more and working harder. Back when I just got out of college, I didn’t have it. I had too little confidence and too much drama. I would have folded, like so many others do. I know this.
So wherever you are, Miss Austin, thank you for sticking me in general English. You inadvertently set me on a course that I am thrilled with, humbled by and eternally grateful for.
A Jersey girl, born and raised, Meg lives with her husband and daughter in Maine. She is a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist in the YA category and is represented by Sara Crowe of the Harvey Klinger agency. You can learn more about her at website and on twitter.
So Meg's got a question for you, gentle readers, did a negative experience ever turn out for the best in the end?