I’ve been reading David Gerrold’s Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Normally, I don’t find how-to books helpful–most seem to be a repeat of the same information. It’s rare to find a gem, and WoW was very non-traditional. David Gerrold is a writer I’m familiar with because Star Trek got me interested in science fiction and fantasy.
He says the best writing instructor he ever had told him:
“Stop wasting my time. You’re no good. You’ll never be any good. You have no talent. You’ll never be a writer.”
This made Gerrold angry, and he vowed to show the teacher that this wasn’t true. It resounded with me, because I had the same experience.
I was in 7th grade, Sun Valley Junior High (junior high is 7th-9th grade), in California. I’d been writing short stories for three years, and when a creative writing class popped up for the following year, I wanted to sign up for it. My best friend Rebekah was already assigned to the class. One of the counselors called me to her office and told me:
“Sorry, you can’t take the class. You’re not capable of it.”
I was so upset I cried, and I was mad. I wrote even more, to prove to her, and to me, that she was wrong. Short stories, poetry–I was always writing. Got into trouble for it a few times. If I was bored in class … well, there was always a story or poem. In 9th grade, SVJH had an essay contest, with the winner to be read by the writer at graduation.
I took honorable mention.
It’s odd thinking about how such a negative experience can be turned so positive. Who is your best writing instructor?