The estimable Jimmy Greenfield posted this topic for discussion over on the top secret ChicagoNow bloggers Facebook page: "To commemorate the end of the school year, tell us something about a teacher who had an impact on your life."
Now, I can name most of my teachers from kindergarten through high school, but the teacher whose words have stuck with me most was an adjunct college professor. I don't remember his name. I remember he had brown hair and was male. I took his creative writing class during my first semester of senior year, when I was just trying to fill up credit hours before student teaching in the spring.
It was the best semester of my college career. All I did all day was write and listen to Aimee Mann (and sometimes Emiliana Torrini). At the end of the semester, my professor called me into his office to discuss my portfolio. And then he said the five little words that have stuck with me ever since, "You should be a writer."
It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I had been writing all my life, ever since I realized that actual humans put pen to paper to create the stories I loved. I wrote Baby-Sitters Club fanfic and poetry and short stories. I was editor of my high school's literary magazine. I kept journals and wrote screenplays and letters to the editor. Writing had been with me since the beginning, through good times and bad, through studying singing and studying Latin. Writing was the "best guy friend" waiting patiently in the wings for me to wise up and admit my love for him.
And when my professor said those words to me -- "You should be a writer" -- it was like, for the first time, someone had given me permission to do what I truly wanted to do. I will be forever grateful.
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