Deb Erika Comes Full Circle

Erika MarksEveryone has The One…

That one person you want, more than any other, to know you published a book. The person who comes to mind when you get the news that after years and years of writing and submitting, writing and submitting, you’ve been offered a contract and your novel will be in bookstores everywhere.

It’s the day you’ve dreamed of.

It’s kind of like that guy in college you crushed on and went on five dates with who eventually told you he just didn’t see you “that way” so you made out with his good friend on the floor—and I mean, on the floor—of the dining hall at the next dance in the hopes of showing him what you looked like “that way” only to wake up with dried oatmeal in your hair.

Er…where was I?

Right. Well, when you write a book, I think it’s sort of the opposite. There are those people in your life you can’t wait to hear the news that you’re finally publishing your first novel. Not because you want them to think, hmm, maybe I blew that one, but because you know they’ve been in your corner from day one.

No, I’m not talking about your parents. (Though they deserve copious praise and love for doing just that.)

I’m not talking about your beloved. (Though the look of pride on his or her face when he or she hears the news puts you under the table begging for a box of Klennex.)

I’m talking about your writing teacher.

Maybe he or she was your teacher in high school, maybe college, or maybe even the leader of a week-long writing course you took one summer.

For me, it was my high school writing teacher. Keep in mind that we hadn’t stayed in touch since graduation—that didn’t matter. What mattered was that I knew she’d appreciated my love of writing earlier than many people had. I knew that she understood the winding and bumpy road to publication. I knew she’d be thrilled. And even though I hadn’t spoken with her in twenty-two years, I couldn’t wait to share my news.

So I did. I sent her an email and she got right back to me. Wrote me the sweetest note. It was just perfect. What we all like to call “coming full circle.”

My husband is a teacher and I swoon when I watch his dedication to his students. To me there is no greater gift you can give a young person than the confidence and the enthusiasm to follow their dreams.

I had that in high school.

Thank you, Mrs. Maiman.

(Of course, there is another blog post out there on how you feel when your writing teacher reads your book—but for now, I’ll stick to the warm fuzzies of pure, red-pen-less congratulations.)

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What about you all? What teacher do you hope reads YOUR novel?

12 Replies to “Deb Erika Comes Full Circle”

  1. Ack! I’m rather terrified at the prospect of any of my past writing teachers reading my novel. “This, Grimes? THIS is what you did with the literary wisdom I imparted to you???” Luckily, I don’t think IN A FIX is something any of them are likely to pick off the shelf. *grin*

  2. That’s great that you had that relationship with your English teacher! And how wonderful that she wrote back and brought it full circle! Unfortunately I haven’t had that special relationship except with a college journalism professor. I remember sending him an article (long ago) and he was very sweet about it, but I’m not sure if I’d send him a copy of a novel once it was published…. I like to think he’d be pleased, but….

    1. Hi, Julia! See, you know what I mean! And trust me, I have no doubt you professor would be tickled to see your novel. I know my husband’s face lights up when he runs into an old student of his who reports that they are majoring in biology.

  3. You know, I never stopped to think about my teachers. I often think about my professors and all that they taught me but not once did I think about those teachers who taught me the rules that I’ll never forget.

    I want to hear more about that oatmeal infested hair dream!

    1. Missy, I think like so many things in life, it takes time and distance–perspective–to see the value in what we learn–we have to apply it and then think: Whoa! That was amazing information. Why did it take me so long to realize that!?

      As for the oatmeal hair incident, ’twas not a dream, dear. More like a waking nightmare, but those can make for good stories down the road, right? 😉

  4. Mrs. Salem! She was my Shakespeare and Advanced Comp teacher. My first serious writing effort was for her class–a Shakespearean sonnet that I spent all night crafting. She photocopied it and handed it out to the class. And then read it out loud. Oh the embarrassment and the pride and the joy! This was my first little bit of recognition, and I loved it. She’d also passed it around the faculty. One of the other teachers told me she’d hung my poem up in her bathroom. Admittedly, at the time, I wondered whether that was a compliment or not…Now I know: the bathroom is a sacred space! You don’t hang just any kind of words up in a bathroom. 🙂

    Years later, post-college, I was living at home for a bit, readying myself to move to NYC. And there she was in local cafe. Mrs. Salem! And she remembered me and my poem. When I told her that I had started to write fiction, she nodded in a sage way and told me I should definitely pursue it.

    I dream of dedicating a book to her!

  5. Reading this post made me realize one thing: When I get my box of final copies (any day now!) I definitely should send one to Mr. Schwartz! My English teacher in 9th and again in 12th grade. He would be so proud! (even if BFF books aren’t totaly his thing).

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