Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What do you do when your English teacher tells you "you'll never be a writer?"

Print or eBook, all formats
L.A. Sartor, author of the new romantic suspense novel Dare to Believe, is my guest. “Ms. Sartor splashes action and suspense across a backdrop of rugged mountains and tropical paradise in a panicked search for a little girl kidnapped for reasons deeper than anyone suspects.” (Giveaway details below.)
I stopped writing. Immediately, according to my parents.
This was in Junior High School, I think 8th grade during a parent/teacher with the student conference. My sweet, pretty teacher told us that I'd never be a writer because I wouldn't learn what writing was all about. Grammar, parsing, nouns, verbs, participles. And that all I wanted to do was to tell stories.
Well, yeah. Duh.
But here's an interesting kicker: I didn't remember any of this. I knew I loved reading even from an early age, and that stories transported me to new worlds, romance, mystery, biographies…I'd read almost anything. Even the newspaper.
Then many years later I read a truly terrible romance, and literally threw the book against the bedroom wall in our small condo. My husband came running in, worried I'd had an accident. I told him I could write better than that. He looked at me kinda funny, then said, "So do it."
I called my mom and told her I was going to write a romance, and she said, "It's about time, I knew you'd get back to it." I had no idea what she was talking about, and she told me the story.
Frankly, I was pissed. Why would a teacher tell something like this to a child filled with dreams?
So I wrote a book, and I loved it. It might not have been great, but it was a start. Then I wrote another and another and here I am, 20 years later, still telling stories.
I want to transport people into adventures, and romance, and mysteries. And if I'm lucky, show them something new, be it a place, an occupation, a perspective.
I'm also am old enough to know that in a small, miniscule way, that teacher was right. I still struggle with the intricacies of grammar. But you know, you can find people to help with that part of the process.
I believe with all my heart, that being a storyteller is a great and even noble undertaking. Don't ever, EVER, let anyone take that dream away from you. And if someone wants to try, you come to me and I'll talk you back into it. You can be a writer, believe it.
On Friday, Sartor will post an excerpt from her novel, Dare to Believe. Anyone who comments between now and Sunday, September 23, by 8 p.m. Eastern time will be entered to win an eBook or, in the United States, a print book.

To learn more about L.A. Sartor, visit her website:  http://bit.ly/Msu6J8
Amazon Kindle:  http://amzn.to/Qjzzgm  
Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.to/MMSLXS     
Barnes and Noble:  http://bit.ly/QNQCh2                         
Smashwords:  http://bit.ly/MlYSSA 
And your favorite e-reader store.
Five Scribes Blog for Dare to Believe:  http://bit.ly/PekVM4
Facebook Profile:  http://on.fb.me/NxXQPL
Facebook Writer:  http://on.fb.me/MUU9HK


Polly Iyer said...

So true, Lesley. Many of us wrote that first book after reading a dreadful one, thinking the same thing you did. Whether our first effort is a winner or something a little less dreadful than the book that spurred us to write, we're hooked. For those of us always living in a story, I say keep writing. The grammar and technique improve with time.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Polly,
Thanks for visiting today. Isn't it funny what spurs us to write? Someone told me they did it on a dare and they are multi-published now!

And I agree, keep writing. Everything will improve with each effort.


Ellis Vidler said...

Leslie, I'm so glad to have you here. Love the story and settings. It had me biting my nails many times.

Warren Bull said...

My motivation for my first book was my ex. Nothing in the book has any relationship to any person living or dead. Uh huh and would you like to purchase a lovely bridge I own in Brooklyn?

Audra Harders said...

Word pierce deeper than a sword, right? Leslie, you've reiterated the importance of watching what we say, no matter how harmless we view it.

What was probably a throwaway comment by your teacher ended up touching a major chord in your life. I'm so thankful you got over/got past it.

Your books are thoughtful, engaging and entertaining. I hope Dare To Believe is the first of many novels you'll share.

In your teaser chapter, I saw your next novel is due out in December. I can't wait!

Magdalen said...

I don't think a teacher ever told me what I couldn't do. They were mostly worried about why I wasn't doing more! LOL

My mother, on the other hand, was unconvinced I'd ever be a writer. When I first tried, in my twenties, she shook her head. "Why not?" I asked. "Because I've read your philosophy papers," she told me.

I tried to convince her I knew the difference between romance novels and essays on Emmanuel Kant, but my mother had a point. I didn't write successfully for 30 years. Why so long? Because, in some very deep sense, I didn't learn the difference between cerebral writing and writing from the heart. When I finally learned that (and after two happy marriages!), I realized: I can do this!

Thanks, Leslie, for your story. I've read Dare to Believe (so no need to enter me in the contest) and it's great. Definitely written from the heart!

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Thank you for having me as your guest today. It's an exciting journey I'm on and it's fun to share it with your followers.

This is a great blog. I've just started to explore it.


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Warren,
You cracked me up! No bridges for me thank you!

Got a question for you. A friend and I were talking about themes the other day, mine are generally about trust.

What do you think yours are about? :)


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

How wonderful to see you here.

Words are mighty weapons. You can't ever take them back!!

And I asked mom whether she thought it was a off-the-cuff comment by that teacher and she said no, she'd reiterated it several ways. This woman just didn't believe.

HA! I Dared To Believe.

Yup, Stone of Heaven is out in December...an action adventure set in the Yucatan. Keep an eye out.


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

How fun to see you here!

Thank you for your kind words on my book!

Yes, written from the heart, with heart, about the heart. Can it trust again?

I'm glad you're now writing from and with heart.

The brain has a place in the process, but a bit later, maybe in revisions? When I need to cut my favorite words b/c they just don't work? Sigh.

I'm excited to see your book.


jenny milchman said...

I would've been ticked off, too! So glad you got beyond it to start "just" telling stories...

Lisa Potocar said...

I'm sorry you didn't get back to it sooner, Leslie Ann. I'm confident that we all would've benefited from much more of your wonderful writing!

I've heard so many stories about dreams being crushed by teachers, mentors, parents, etc. It's a shame more people don't follow your lead and "Dare to Believe."

Cynthia Woolf said...

LA, what a great story. I not surprised that you didn't remember. It was traumatic and a horrible thing to do to a young person. I'm glad that Gary told you to "do it" and that you did.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Crushing any dream is a terrible waste, you never know what could have come of it.

I hope everyone tries for their dream. What is that saying about trying and failing, or not trying?

Great to see you here.


Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Nice to see you here. Gary is great support! You've met him, I think, or at least chatted with him.

You know, I wonder, and this is the optimist in me, what would happen if everyone could be allowed to follow their dream? Imagine that child in Africa, or Los Angeles, or China?

And of course it doesn't have to be child...mine came later.

Wow, it boggles the mind what great things could come from that.


Theresa said...

Hi Leslie,
What a sad story. I can't believe a teacher would be so mean as to crush a kid's dreams!

I'm so happy you found that bad book that compelled you to do better!

I really enjoyed Dare to Dream and look forward to your next release!

Morgan Mandel said...

Sometimes teachers shouldn't be teachers. Good thing you forgot what that one said.

Morgan Mandel

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Theresa,
Even now, I can't believe she said that. What could her purpose have been? Motivation?

Great to see you here.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Hi Morgan,
We're all taught to look up to our teachers, or at least we were taught that.

I asked mom if she'd ever nudged me toward writing again after that and she did for a bit, but I got seriously involved with my music at that time and so she dropped it until I brought it up.


Nancy said...

So glad you made the comeback from that teacher's comment, LA! No need to enter me in the contest - I have my copy!!!

Nancy Haddock

Neringa said...

I had an English teacher once tell me sarcastically as she looked at my paper, "Did you run out of ink, dear?" I took it as a challenge and wrote a childrens project that was assigned to us for our next mark. We were also assigned in groups of three to complete the project. I ran home, excited because I had an idea, brought it into school a few days later and the other two girls in my group loved it and didn't have to do anything but add their names. When the three of us got an "A"-- we were thrilled, but the same teacher announced to me, that I wouldn't have gotten an A if the other two girls didn't do the work for me.

There are some paths we have to take in order to find our strengths, no matter what others say... Look at you now, a published author with stories to tell. You go girl!

Darla said...

Thanks for the inspirational post. Our self-confidence can be quite fragile, even as adults. I'm so happy that you were motivated to try again.

Anonymous said...

Yep, been there done that. Why do some people just have to be hurtful? I'm glad you finally got back to writing. Your story is wonderful.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

I think your story beats mine! What a witch to say that.

I'd like to think this all makes us stronger.

I hope so.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Thank you for saying that. I'll tell you, being an Indie Pub, one has to grow a thick skin, and I don't really have one, so I best getting on that. But you're right, I was motivated and now ready to take the world by the horns.

Thanks for being here.

Leslie Ann aka LA said...

Thanks Anon...
For the kind words. I'm sorry you had to go through that as well. Why do people do this to each other. What is the purpose.

And again, thank you.