Ever since I remember myself, I have enjoyed writing. At school, many of my classmates dreaded essay-writing, whereas I could count on my essays to be read in class. So, when I finished highschool, I figured I’d try writing for a living.
Expecting words of praise, I showed one of my short stories to a career councilor who was a family friend. Instead of the expected thumbs-up, she told me in no uncertain terms that I had no future in writing, and I had best focus my energy on a “proper” career.
So, I became an engineer, then an architect, then a web developer.
In 2009, I decided to try again my hand at writing. A newspaper had a segment called 9, that included a short science fiction story each week. Usually, these were translated into Greek, but every now and then you would see a story written by a Greek. So, I submitted my story, not expecting much.
They published it, and sent me a cheque for 150 euros. I was ecstatic. I quickly wrote another couple of stories and submitted them, but the newspaper had ran into financial trouble and discontinued that segment. So, I sent one of the stories to a short-story competition, and won. The story was (traditionally) published in an anthology called Invasion.
I then started working on my novel, Pearseus, which turned into a series. I first published that on Amazon in late 2013, certain that I was missing something: surely someone would call my bluff. Amazon would take a look and go, “hey, you’re not an author. What are you playing at?”
Instead, people bought Pearseus and reviewed it. They said nice things about it and actually paid to read my work.
Wow. People liked my work! This really was an eye opener, and I continued to write and publish. I’ve learned a lot, developed my voice and interacted with hundreds of wonderful people.
Then, the other day, the funniest thing happened. Remember that councilor* I mentioned at the beginning? Apparently, she read Runaway Smile and asked my mother for my phone number – remember, this is someone I had not talked to in over 25 years.
Her first words were, “I wanted to congratulate you on your book. It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s clear that this is where your future lies. Don’t give up writing, it’s who you are and what you’re meant to be doing.”
Needless to say, I almost dropped the phone with surprise. All I could say was “aha,” and “thank you.” Then, I hung up and turned to my wife. “You’ll never guess who that was…”
* Yes, this was same woman I mention in my Tour through Blogland, who insisted that I had misconstrued my book’s real meaning. If you want to see what she was talking about, why not read Runaway Smile, online for free and make up your own mind?
Teachers have power they shouldn’t abuse. They should never discourage a child, especially a younger one. Bravo for being a success in spite of her. 🙂
Thank you! In her defence, she only what she thought was best for me. I’m only aging myself now, but it really was a different time back then 🙂
I can relate to many of the things that you mentioned. I have always been a student of the arts, but got side-tracked by real life. Thanks for the honest insights Nick!
A pleasure! I suspect it happens to more of us than we realize…
And this is why we should never listen to anyone other than our own hearts about what we’re good at and what we should pursue 🙂 I have a similar experience with a teacher who once told me I wasn’t going to make it in the national exams if I picked Math but since I loved it so much, I disregarded him and picked it anyway. My mark was a perfect 20, the highest among hundreds in my class. I learnt that lesson when I was 18 and it helped me lots later in life. People are idiots. Trust only what your heart tells you. You can never go wrong then 🙂
I’m so impressed by your story – and congrats on your amazing math score!
Evidently she didn’t remember her earlier words to you. Lol. ~Elle
I honestly think so. I think she must have forgotten all about it, at least on a conscious level. My guess is that it was her unconscious memory of it that prompted her to give me a call.
So pleased you have finally found your niche. Great post!
Thank you, Barbara! So am I 🙂
Jaw-dropping encounters are awesome! So glad you came back to writing – and yes, we’re willing to pay to be able to read your books!
Lol – and now you’re my new BFF 😀
Nicholas, this was a wonderful and very uplifting post, even chuckled a few times. I remember my high school counselor telling me the same thing they told all the girls at that time. You can be a nurse, a teacher, a secretary, or a stewardess (they no longer even call them that).I didn’t choose any of those roles. I’m very glad you never gave up. You definitely have a talent for writing.
Thank you so much for that! Thankfully, career guidance has come a long way since then 🙂
Nicholas, yep, you are an amazing author! Runaway Smile is my new favorite childrens/adults book! It proudly shares bookcase space with The Little Prince. Proves teachers need to encourage kids to develop their passions whatever they are. No kid starts off a “winner”…you are an example of how to work hard & get there. Bravo…way to go! Christine
Wow, I don’t know quite what to say. Just… thank you – your encouragement means the world to me! 🙂
Nicholas, that’s what it’s all about! Encouragement to explore & follow dreams! See how yours came true…It’s an inspirational story. Christine
A great story. Shows how important it is to trust yourself and pursue your dreams. And How sweet of your teacher to make the effort to contact you. She redeemed herself!
Nothing to redeem. 🙂 She did what she thought was right at the time. Besides, had I followed another path, I would have missed out on much that’s made me a better writer.
True. Every choice and event, good and bad, led you to where you are now. And it sounds like that’s a good place to be.
It has its challenges, but I like it 🙂
I had a teacher in high school that complimented everything I wrote and often had me read in class. I can’t thank her now, she’s long passed. But she did wonders for my self-esteem, encouraging me. She wanted me to go to college and I rebelled at that time…hindsight. I later became a nurse, but never stopped writing.
It’s so wonderful to hear this. I’d like to think you’re honoring her each time you write something 🙂
Great haircut! Why would you ever change it? I loved writing at an early age too, but rebelled at the idea of writing to someone else’s theme. Why can’t there be aliens in George Washington’s biography?
Lol – my mom used to cut my hair. She had toyed once or twice with the idea of using a bowl to do so, but mercifully never did. Ah, the seventies…
I love rebellious Craig. As a fellow rebel, I salute you. Now, watch out you dastardly redcoats, the Zwwiths are coming! Pew! Pew!
My mom used to cut my hair too. Crew cuts were easy.
Especially if you use a bowl as a guide… 😀
Ah! Vindication. I think perhaps authors come to maturity at different times, and when we do it explodes.
What a lovely thought! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Wonderful this woman took the time to call you after so many years. I know adults say things that may curb our enthusiasm when we are young, but that doesn’t mean they are always right. They’re only human.
I agree, hence no hard feelings. Just a lot of jaw-dropping! 😀
I heard your jaw drop when I read this post!
That must have been very satisfying to hear your old counselor say those words. It’s a shame young folks let others sway their confidence, like she did to you. We’ve talked about this before, if only I started taking my writing seriously many moons ago… But– we’re both here now. Look out, world!
Lol – look out world, Sue’s about to buy an island. 🙂
I’m sorry that she killed your initial enthusiasm, but I’m glad you found it again. The lesson from this story is not to let others influence us negatively! At least, that’s what I took from it. That, and never to wear turtlenecks.
Indeed. I was surprised that no one else mentioned my awkward phase. And grateful, of course 😀
That’s actually pretty funny. I wonder how many people in our youth tell us such things to ‘protect’ us. Not that they believe we have no talent, but they believe the artistic career path is too brutal. I have family and friends who still do this even after I published 6 books. Very cool that you heard back from her.
It was amazing – and jaw-dropping. She was the last person I expected to ever hear from, after all this time! Kudos to her for calling, even if she never mentioned our former conversation.
Also I guess you made an impact on her. It really shows we never know who will remember us.
You felt that writing is part of yourself and it felt like your purpose. Whatever feels like this will always work out. You are a wonderful example for that, Nicholas!
Thank you so much, Erika! I hardly consider myself a successful author yet (in the sense of making my living out of my writing), but I’m too busy enjoying myself to care 🙂
What is success? When you are happy with what you are doing!!!
Hear, hear 🙂
Think Like A Writer Every Day, Even If You Can’t Write Every Day
I totally agree with this post, because even on days when I am not specifically writing word count, I am still scanning the world for writing fodder.
I know, right? It’s just impossible to stop! 😀
Reblogged this on Juliet Aharoni and commented:
I always enjoy reading what you write. As a retired teacher, your words brought back memories of the importance of every word uttered by a teacher and how they can influence a person’s life. Thank goodness, you didn’t stop. Teachers play a significant role in a child’s development; hence they should be cautious when making any remark to an impressionable young person.
Runaway Smile and your other books are outstanding.
Thank you so much. I only wish I had you as a teacher back then 🙂
A great read Nicholas. Buoyant pieces like this are always a lift to one such as myself still trying to ‘get published.’
Then, my post was successful. Thank you 🙂
Nice post, thanks for sharing these thoughts. I had a similar experience to you growing up, loved writing, found English classes a breeze and, not really knowing how to turn a love of writing into a career, have tried to satisfy my urge otherwise. I ended up starting a blog just a few months ago for this very reason. Please have a look at my first post, which is in a similar vein to yours, if you’re interested. https://wp.me/p1A1oE-D
Excellent, thanks for the link. I am an INFP, by the way, married to an INFJ 🙂