I often see writers thanking their favorite teachers for helping them and inspiring them to write. I’d like to do the same, but unfortunately, there were no teachers in my life that inspired me. I was part of one of the best school systems in the country and my teachers knew their stuff, taught me what I needed to know about syntax and grammar, but inspire me?
When I think of an inspiring teacher, I can’t help but think of John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society. He made learning fun. He opened their minds and eyes to a whole new world. Only a very special teacher can do that, and I was not privileged to meet one.
Early on, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I assumed at the age of 5 that after one learned to read, they wrote books, and so I did. It was almost like an invisible hand was guiding me into it, as if it was commanded by some unrecognizable force. I still look back in wonder at what first put this desire in me. But from the time I could pick up a pencil, I was writing books. I wrote many, many books. In fifth grade I turned in a 50-page Choose Your Own Adventure to my teacher. My sophomore year of high school, I was supposed to write a story for Creative Writing but instead turned in a novel. Senior year, I did the same.
My teachers gave me good grades for these efforts. I got A Christmas Story A-plus-plus-plus-pluses for them. The teachers told me I should try for publication. But . . . that was it. I was called an English Teacher’s dream. But in truth, I was more of a nightmare. I think I bewildered them—they had no clue what to do with me. I looked to them for guidance on what to do next and how to get started in a career. But my teachers didn’t know, either. They were teachers, not authors. They had a million other things on their minds, a hundred other students, and didn’t have the time to focus on my books the way I did. But even if they did, where would they start? The internet didn’t exist then. So they couldn’t guide me.
I can’t blame them. After all, I went through a good portion of my adult life not knowing a thing about how to navigate the world of publishing. Once I started digging and trying to figure it out on my own online, the sheer amount of information I needed to digest was staggering. But eventually, I guess I taught myself. We are our own best teachers, and every day is an opportunity to learn, without a classroom, without books. Even after publishing 6 books, I’m still learning about this business and the craft of writing, and I love it. Best of all, my teacher doesn’t care if I have to take a bunch of bathroom breaks.
I'm new to YA Outside the Lines! I write YA paranormal romances under the name Cyn Balog and post-apocalyptic fantasy under the name Nichola Reilly. DROWNED is my latest novel. You can find out about both of us at www.cynbalog.com.