I just added a new sign to the wall above my desk, right above my “writing board” that has various motivational quotes on it. The new sign says: “Don’t you think Tyler would like to see you publish?”

Tyler is my creative writing professor from undergrad. He’s a great writer, penning some really awesome books lately. And a great teacher. Everyone has different styles, and Tyler’s was always helpful, and nice. He wanted to get us to think, to read new books that were being published, to talk about writing and genre and character and plot. I’ve had professors who tell you everything that you do wrong, who tear your writing to shreds so that you can see how little substance there actually was to it. And that has a place (mostly in grad school, I think). Tyler was all about being encouraging, though. He pointed out the things in your stories that he thought were good, and you wanted to up the frequency of those “nice” and “good” comments in the margins.

For that reason, when I think of Tyler—and how he encouraged me, and recommended me for my grad program and introduced me to the director of said program—I think about how helpful and nice he is. When I go to his book signings now, he asks how the writing is going. He asks when I’m going to be published. I feel like he actually cares, about a student he taught five years ago.

My husband said this to me, about a year before we got married: “I should marry you because you’re nothing but helpful and nice. What else can I do?” Similarly, I feel like I should write and publish books, because Tyler was nothing but helpful and nice. He didn’t have to be. He didn’t have to believe in me. He doesn’t have to ask after my writing, or stay my Facebook friend.

I want to surprise him one day, and say look, look at that. I finally did it. So that’s what I’m going to do.


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