Up Hill. Both Ways!
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Okay, so this goes back to my first year in college at Texas State University in San Marcos. I’d started with a degree plan of Business Administration with a vague idea of “going into business or something.”
Yeah, it was not the brightest idea I’ve ever had.
All right, funny story; the campus at Texas State is built on/between the crest of two hills. So, no matter which what you’re walking on campus it’s uphill. Yeah, when I went to school I literally had to walk uphill. BOTH WAYS.
Back to the regular story: part of the business degree plan involved accounting. Yeah, I know. Accounting! Thrills! Excitement! Lots of spreadsheets! So, thrilling that I missed a fair share of class.
Well, to paraphrase Office Space I wasn’t exactly missing it.
About halfway through the semester on one of the days I made it to class, the professor tells me he wants to speak with me after class. And I’m like, well that’s never good.
Once class let out he said, “How long do you think I’ve been teaching accounting?”
“I dunno,” I said. “A few years?”
“Eleven,” he said. “I’ve seen just about every type of student there is. I can tell you’re not doing the outside work. But you’re smart enough you’re teaching it to yourself every day you come in here. You’ll get a solid C.”
To be honest; he was right. I wasn’t doing much of the outside reading if any. Occasionally, I did the out-of-class work to reinforce what was happening in class. Really, I was doing just enough to fake my way.
“But that’s not enough,” he said. “You’re paying for this. What you’re doing here should inspire you to wake up early every morning and say, ‘I can’t wait to get to class today!’ Now, for the project that’s due on Monday. I’ve already marked you down for an A so don’t bother trying to do it. Instead, I want you to think about what will inspire you to stay up late studying every night and get up early to talk about it the next day. Whatever that is, pursue it aggressively. Oh and have a good weekend.”
He was the best teacher I’ve ever had.
Walking out of his class, I knew what I had to do. There wasn’t a choice about it. I walked straight across campus to Flowers Hall, the home of the English department. I changed my major to English with a focus in Fiction Writing. I had always dreamed of being a writer, and damn it, I was going to take his advice!
Which really worked out for me. Texas State has this amazing writing program at the undergraduate and graduate level. I got exposure to some amazing writers and input on how to improve my writing.
I got up early every morning to get to class. I stayed late every night because it was so much fun.
Next time I’ll tell you about how I switched from writing literary fiction to genre fiction. It involves me shouting “That’s Bullshit!”