My piecemeal writing education…

My honors English teacher turned me into a lifetime reader. She talked about characters as if they were real, as if to read about them was to be included in their adventures. She introduced me to To Kill a Mockingbird and laughed with me about passing the damn ham. When she asked why I didn’t care for The Catcher in the Rye, I told her Holden Caulfield was a whiner; she grinned.

on writingReading made me want to be a writer. I’d win little poetry/short story contests, which my family celebrated, but my father didn’t sugarcoat how difficult it’d be to earn a living at it, or romanticize how stressful it is living paycheck to paycheck. He suggested I go into business and wait for a time I could write without desperation.

I went to Babson College, an amazing business school in Wellesley, MA. For my senior honors thesis, I inquired about writing a novella. I didn’t think it’d be approved, and perhaps it wouldn’t have, if not for Professor Carolyn Megan. She agreed to sponsor me if I agreed to twice-weekly meetings at 6:45 a.m. I was so jazzed to get feedback from a real writer that I went for it, much to the dismay of a couple hangovers.pic4

Professor Megan gave me a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing, which taught me the importance of purposeful reading, following the story, pushing through the bad to get to the good, and discipline– 2500+ words a day, period. King directed me to William Strunk’s The Elements of Style, where I was instructed to omit needless words. At the end of the year, Professor Megan shared her opinion that I was the real deal. Her words inflated me.

After graduation, I went off to the business world, but the fire had been lit. I wrote on planes, late at night, and on quiet weekends, biding my time until it made sense to go all in. When I finally went for it, I warned my family the chances of publication were slim. My father never indulged excuses. He wisely quoted Taj Mahal: Many fish bite if you’ve got good bait.

It was a piecemeal writing education that I wouldn’t change for the world.

The following two tabs change content below.
Abby Fabiaschi is the author of I LIKED MY LIFE (St. Martin's Press, February 2017). She and her family divide their time between Tampa, Florida and Park City, Utah. When not writing or watching the comedy show that is her children, she enjoys reading across genres, skiing, hiking, and yoga. Oh, and travel. Who doesn’t love vacation? Learn more at abbyfabiaschi.com.

Latest posts by Abby Fabiaschi (see all)

This article has 7 Comments

  1. I love that you were influenced by two teachers so profoundly. My AP English teacher was a huge influence on me as well, not because he saw something special in me (he didn’t), but because he was a brutal editor. I think great teachers, especially great high school teachers, are among the unsung heroes of our society. And Stephen King is a god. “On Writing” is amazing!

  2. In today’s writing market, I’m sure many people with MFAs realize they might have done better to get a business degree! Abby, I loved hearing about your educational path. And the creative option in traditional academic classes is an underutilized gem. Believe me, professors get so bored of lackluster essays, they’re thrilled for something creative.

    1. “And the creative option in traditional academic classes is an underutilized gem.”

      Very good point. In my college class studying the short story, the professor was very agreeable when I proposed writing a short story as my term paper.
      I’m sure a lot of people never think to ask.

Comments are closed.