Sunday, May 26, 2013

That time I quit writing (Giving up on your dreams)

Have you ever given up on a dream?

I don't mean you had a bad few days, and decided you couldn't do it, then when friends rallied around you with nice words of encouragement, and some pics of funny cats, a vid of a baby goat, you picked up that pen/ microphone/ paintbrush again.

I mean QUIT. Completely talked yourself out of your dreams, your passions - or let someone else talk you out of them?

I did.

I quit for over a decade. Oh, I had some help with those cliffs of insanity, where dreams are torn from our hearts and thrown over the edge to be drowned in our tears of defeat. Of resignation.

I remember the moment I gave up. It was the first day of school, I won't say *which* year in high school so as not to identify the teacher, and I shall refer to this teacher as the gender nonspecific 'they.'

They'd given us an assignment: Write a page about what you wanted to be when you were older. It was an assignment so the teacher could see how well we wrote, and could get to know us all a little bit.

I wrote that I was going to be a writer.

The teacher had written a little note on everyone's page, and passed them back the next day.

I read the note on mine, and in that moment I gave up.

Their note? 'I don't think you have what it takes to achieve big things.'

This wasn't a bit of a challenge - trying to get me to work harder and make it to spite them. No, this teacher just didn't like me.

Because of this comment I didn't write anything, other than a brief angsty poem phase at 18-19, for over ten years. I felt myself switch off. Here was my TEACHER, who told my mum that they were relying on me to bring up the class average, who was actively discouraging me from my dream. What was the point of trying?

The previous year, I'd written a 98% in English. That year with the Discourager, my final mark was in the 60's.

I don't know the moment I talked myself back into writing, but sometime in 2007 I began writing my first MS. While it needs a LOT of work before it sees the light of day, it ignited a spark inside me, growing brighter with every word I typed until it was bright enough for me to find myself again.

I recently finished writing my 6th Manuscript. December of last year, I signed with a fabulous agent from a fabulous agency.

While I wouldn't call myself a wild literary success, I am actively going for it, putting myself in harm's way as I go for my dreams, hoping I'm not dashed against the rocks.

Years later, when cleaning out a binder, I came across that high school assignment. I tore that note to pieces, but the words are still seared into my mind. They burn me to this day.

In the small town I'm in, I still SEE this fucking teacher, sometimes weekly. They don't recognize me. But I sure remember them.

I'd sort of had this plan, to dedicate my first published book to them. A sort of revenge by success. It was going to be as follows:

''This book is dedicated to the high school English teacher who told me I 'don't have what it takes to achieve big things.' HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW?!''

But you know what? That teacher doesn't deserve even the tiniest place in my book - not even as a 'fuck you.' They're so not worth it.

Don't let anyone take ten years from your journey. Whether it's for fun, or for profit, or to show those naysayers, you GO for your dreams. Grab on tight and don't ever let go.

Stop wasting time trying to talk yourself out of your dreams. Someone encouraged me to quit, and I let them.

I'll never do that again.

And you shouldn't either.



  1. AMEN! I'm so glad you found all the words again. Never let grumpy assbutts squash your dreams. :)

  2. So glad you started again. Also, that teacher is a TOTAL dick. I'm sorry, but it's never okay to do that to anyone. I think he was just jealous of your awesomeness. :)

  3. I had a similar story. A stupid ass English teacher. I dropped the class and stopped writing for a long time. Don't teachers get their power? Good for you for letting it go. That teacher doesn't deserve your breath.

  4. As a teacher, I have no words. Only rage.

    Okay, maybe I have a few words.

    I'm on the math end, so maybe it's a little different. But I have some kids who come in, and they STRUGGLE. But they want to get a good grade. Do I say, "No way, kid, you're in 9th grade and can't multiply. Might as well take your F now"? No. I also don't say, "Sure, no problem. Anyone can get an A."

    I say, "Okay, that's your goal. I see where you are now. It's going to take some work, but we can do it? Are you ready to work? Cool. Let's go."

    The way I see it, a teacher's job is to keep it real, and facilitate the crap out of every kid's potential. And the trick is, you don't really know anyone's potential until you dig in with them and start to build. In a lot of cases, it's only limited by how hard and long the person is willing to work.

    Okay, rant over. Gonna go de-rage myself now.

  5. No words. Just gonna leave this here. >_<

  6. No words. Just gonna leave this here. >_<

  7. There are some people that enter the teaching profession that obviously have no business there. They have 0 idea of how much damage they can to to a life. I had a great many wonderfully inspirational teachers, but the opinions of the one or two bad ones I had stuck with me much longer. I had one who called me stupid in front of the class in 7th grade and gave me a HUGE complex about math. Another who tried to kick me out of her journalism program simply because she didn't like me. (I was painfully rule-abiding, I wasn't being a dick or anything.) Kids deserve EVERYTHING; giving them anything less is criminal. Actively knocking them down should be punishable by sodomy with a branding iron. I'm so glad that the hideous twunt you were saddled with didn't manage to kill your dream!

  8. Ugh. Had a similarly (thought not QUITE as brutal) freshman English teacher in college. These people are the lowliest of the low on the literary ladder. We shall step on their mean little heads as we clamber up, rung by rung.

  9. Wow. I just...I just can't. So I'm not going to.

    ((Hugs)) So glad you are back in the game!

  10. Sounds like the same teacher I had in Grade 9 (who convinced me to stop trying) and the one in 1st year University (who convinced me to give up). It took me years to stop believing them. Why do people like that get hired?????

    You're right, they're NOT worth our time or our thoughts. Keep on writing.

  11. That made me flare up when I read it. How could a teacher do something like that? He shouldn't be allowed to teach and destroy more dreams...

  12. I am SO glad you started writing again!!! That teacher sounds like THEY dreamed of becoming a writer and gave up themselves and then couldn't bear the idea that a child might grow up and become what THEY didn't have the gumption to go after.

  13. I already knew this story but reading it saddens me all over again. I love you, and I am so beyond happy that you found your words again. After all, your words are what brought us together!