The Heroes You Didn’t Know You Had by Deb Tiffany

bookcover1So I live in a small town near a big city, right? The same town I grew up in. If you want to see half the people you ever knew, all you have to do is stroll on down to the library at about 2:30 in the afternoon and walk around the new release and magazine section. On a recent visit I saw a couple of girlfriends, one of my parent’s friends, some kids I knew with their nannies, and, best of all, Mrs. Moore.

Mrs. Moore was my sixth grade teacher. She’s a little older now (like I’m not, right?), but I’d know her anywhere. She was sharp as a tack, Mrs. Moore, didn’t put up with crap, told it like it was, but was also really kind and had a great sense of humor.

We got to chatting and she’d heard all about my book and told me how proud she was, to which I could only reply, thank you. She asked if I remembered how she’d mark up my papers and make me write things over and over, and, you know, I had to admit I did. The thing is, I never minded it. I actually liked it.

That may have been one of the first clues that I was born to be a writer. Mrs. Moore was my first editor, and she taught me pretty much everything I needed to know about working in the world of New York publishing: try to hand your work in on time, don’t argue with people who are trying to make your work better, check your work for errors, and, most of all, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

I’ve had lots of creative writing teachers, various professors and dissertation chairs, even more than one agent, but no one could ever beat Mrs. Moore. To this day, she’s the editorial voice in my head, putting squiggly red lines on the paper, circling misspelled words, urging me to make this section a little clearer. But it’s not a school-marmish, critical voice. Quite the opposite. It’s a voice full of affection, tipping toward laughter. Just like Mrs. Moore.

I would say that Mrs. Moore started out as my mentor (though I didn’t know that at the time, being only eleven) and ended up one of my heroes. I hope that one day my children have a teacher who’s as special to them. She’s retired now, but I’m so glad I still get to run into her in the library because in my heart, I’m still eleven, still writing magical things for the pure joy of it, and Mrs. Moore will forever be my teacher. Bon Vivant.

10 Replies to “The Heroes You Didn’t Know You Had by Deb Tiffany”

  1. Mrs. Moore sounds lovely! It’s too bad she’s retired. But how wonderful you get to see her around town–and she gets to see your success!

  2. I hope she gets to see this, Tiffany!

    One of my special teachers is going to get a signed copy of my book just for this reason. I guess I had a mentor after all! (Though I was only nine.) And you want to know something cool? She’s still teaching and she’s at my son’s school!

  3. Thanks. Doesn’t everyone have that favorite teacher? I’m sure Mrs. Moore probably tried her best to teach me math, but for some reason, those lessons just didn’t take….

  4. My favorite teacher in high school was my math teacher–she just believed that we could all conquer Calculus, and we hated to disappoint her! Somehow she did not turn me into a mathematician, but she did give me a healthy respect for engineers and scientists.

  5. My special teacher was Mr. Ron Frank and I acknowledged him in my book and I’m hoping to track him down and invite him to my book event in NYC so I can acknowledge him in person. How nice Tiffany that you were able to share this with Mrs. Moore.

  6. It’s no surprise, I suppose, that a lot of writers were inspired by a teacher, and I’m no exception. After I finished reading a book report, and I can’t even remember which book now, my 7th grade English teacher, Miss Lee, said, “My, Rebbie, you certainly have a knack for writing.”
    That’s all it took for my little 13 year old ego to get pumped up. I’ve been battling it ever since. 🙂

  7. I know as parents we’re supposed to give our kids wings, but I think sometimes teachers are the ones who help strap them on. They just see you with a different gaze than anyone else in your life–the good ones, at least.

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