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Writer's Block: Teacher of the year

Have you ever had a teacher who made a profound difference in your life? How did they influence and/or inspire you?

My junior English teacher, Mrs. Trestrail, was the daughter of famous science fiction author E.E. (Doc) Smith. Here's what wikipedia says about her on Smith's page:

Verna Jean (later Verna Smith Trestrail), born August 25, 1920 in Michigan, his (Smith's) literary executor until her death in 1994. (Her son Kim Trestrail is now the executor.[13]) Robert A. Heinlein in part dedicated his 1982 novel Friday to Verna.[14]

Mrs. T not only taught Science Fiction short story and British short story classes in addition to English, she also brought in the galley pages for some of Smith's books when a publisher was preparing to reissue them. I'm not sure she ever realized what an effect that small look into the publishing world had on me, an aspiring fiction writer.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 4th, 2010 07:29 am (UTC)
That sounds so cool mate
By contrast, my English teacher just went through the boring stock texts that did little to ignite the imagination.
Sep. 4th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
Re: That sounds so cool mate
That sounds a bit more like the typical English teacher.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 4th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
She was an *odd* lady, too! :-)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 4th, 2010 10:18 am (UTC)
Well, she fit the bill, then! :-)
Sep. 4th, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC)
Sounds like an interesting teacher. Did you take the SF short story class?
Sep. 5th, 2010 06:28 am (UTC)
Oh, yes. We were a small school and didn't have many elective courses. I took her SF and British short story classes, and also journalism, which were about the only courses that came anywhere near being related to writing.
Sep. 4th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
I took a creative writing and poetry class with a great teacher, only I didn't like him as much as I wanted to because he refused to let anyone write SF or fantasy stories. Only "realistic" stories were allowed, which I hated, because I love writing and reading fantasy stories! :P
Sep. 5th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
Genre hatred is a terrible thing! And he's far from the only teacher to feel that way, I'm afraid. Luckily for my grades, my teachers were always happy to take my SF stories.
Sep. 5th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
Well, I was lucky that in seventh grade our English teacher had us write fantasy stories for part of our grade. So what did I write? An Oz story, of course! :D
Sep. 6th, 2010 06:09 am (UTC)
It's the strangest thing: The very first story I ever came up with (dictated to my mother) was an Oz story, but I never tried to write another one after that. Other than a brief, unfullfilled plan to write a Star Trek story with a guy in high school, I never wrote another fanfiction after that until I started "Where Do We Go From Here" right after the end of Buffy. The stories I turned in for school credit were mostly science fiction tales.

Now, although I've only committed a few notes to paper, I've been refining an idea in my mind for an Oz related book that will either be hailed as genius or get me kicked out of the fandom ...
Sep. 8th, 2010 03:55 am (UTC)
Dave Hardenbrook (a member of the Oz Club) wrote a book in which his Gary Stu marries Ozma and Jellia Jamb takes a nude bath in a liquid candy pool (while being spied on!), so I think just about anything you come up with will be OK. And, if you wanna include some Scarecrow/Tin Man slash or Ozma/Dorothy femmeslash, that's OK by me! :)
Sep. 10th, 2010 08:57 am (UTC)
I read part of the candy pool passage from that story, but I didn't realize she was being spied on ... who was the culprit, and was the story any good?

It may be okay by you, but I'm not sure all Oz fans would feel the same! :-) While I accept Ozma/Dorothy as being possible, my Dorothy continued to look like she's 11 (and blonde, dammit!), so I'm not likely to go into R rated territory. But she's 120 or so, no matter how she looks, so who knows what she's experienced in all that time?
Sep. 11th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
I think she was being spied on by one of her friends (not an Oz character we've already met), based on what I saw of the preview trailer online. It sounds more like adult fantasy, like Xanth, more than children's fantasy to me, but I never read it, so you'll have to ask vovat what it was like. He reads everything about Oz! :)

Oh, I wouldn't pressure you to get into R-rated territory. I'd think passionate kissing and above-the-waist, clothed touching would be fine, which is all that's acceptable in a story for a preteen/teen audience anyway. Have you read/watched "Interview with a Vampire"? Maybe Dorothy has run into some of the same issues as Claudia--who was only five physically!
Sep. 12th, 2010 05:54 am (UTC)
I'm okay with adult fantasy -- and honestly, I believe younger readers these days can handle adult themes and concepts in their reading.

I both read and watched "Interview with a Vampire", and I think they handled it very well. The thing is, Dorothy (and Claudia, at that point) is very much an adult, and can certainly do and say adult things, just as Betsy, Trot, and the other Oz "children" can. It's not a matter of doing anything wrong with the characters -- it's just a matter of considering what the readers can handle. That's one reason why I want to wait until I've achieved some fiction writing success before tackling my book idea -- so I both have a built in audience and some measure of credibility before people start jumping to conclusions about what I'm writing.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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