I was a bad student. I didn’t cause trouble, I was just … absent. I never applied myself, partially because I didn’t learn in the ways that school is (or was) taught. But, while there was much hand-waving about my perma-failing grades—I nearly didn’t graduate—there were a few teachers who found a way to pierce my social wall.
I’m mainly talking about Mrs. Nyrop (right), one of my high school English teachers. Mrs. Nyrop’s lessons did sink in, somehow, and a handful of times I was even moved to participate in the creative writing assignment of the day. I’d been writing since I first learned how to write, but getting recognition from someone who isn’t related to you makes an impression.
A lasting impression, as it happens: I still have the kind comments she wrote to me in the margins of my work. I was too closed off to express gratitude then, but this kind of encouragement kept me centered on the act of writing (even if I never did submit my work for my school’s literary journal).
In fact, I didn’t do much long-form writing in the decades that followed. But I’m now working on my sixth novel. I still think of those early margin notes, and I can say they’ve played a big role in this pursuit.
Some of us are late bloomers.
P.S. Don’t wait 3.5 decades to thank your teachers.