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Thoughtful Thursday: Education pt.1

There isn't such a thing as someone who knows everything. Sure, there are a lot of people who are masters of a craft or skill (10,000 hours sure seems like enough time to hone diamond sharpness), but is there ever a point of knowing enough? I don't think there is. In fact, I've dedicated most of my life to the notion of building upon my current situation and becoming better each and every day. There may be short term ends in sight (a published novel, a promotion at work, the purchase of a new home), but those are just goals or aspirations. To achieve many of those things, one has to work towards them, but the true work, the work that makes the difference, probably already happened years, maybe decades before.

Not enough people credit education (both in-school and at home) in the way they should. I can honestly say, without having attended a Montessori school from the age of two through 6th grade (Springmont, formerly FMSA), and then a progressive private middle and high school (The Galloway School), I would not have written my first novel. Period.

Now let me explain.

I wrote stories from the age of six until the age of 13. At that point, everyone expected me to become a writer, so I began to focus on other things (business... it's funny how my teenage revolting led me towards what most people run away from). And yes, I've found success in business and have enjoyed it very much. But for years, I was missing my creative outlet (13 years, if you haven't skipped ahead to the next line).

Then, at the age of 26, I began writing again. From there, invisible floodgates flung open and life rushed towards me all at once. Suddenly, beautiful things started to happen.

Here's the timeline: I came down with the flu over a Christmas holiday and, stuck in bed, began to write. I shared my writing with friends and online. People seemed to enjoy my stories. From there, I took multiple courses (Emory University, Screenwriting 101 with Michael Lucker). I met my amazing wife Melissa at Piedmont Park, and what was it that we talked about? Right. Writing. I began taking classes at the MFA program at Reinhardt University, wrote dozens of short stories, and eventually, I had one published ("Joni's Seashell"). I wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages towards both a critical and a creative thesis. Eventually, I completed both and received my MFA. Before graduation, literally during my first residency, I received the notification that my creative thesis, which is now my novel, The Guava Tree, was accepted. I wasn't published yet, but in my mind, I'd done it: I was officially an author. Now, fast forward a year and a half later: on 12/13/2022, my first novel was released (and I really became a published author). Again, that all happened in a four year span of starting to write again after 13 long, writing-less years.

Here's the interesting part. There were so many obstacles blocking my spark-noted goals listed above (I'll get into those in a different post), but outside of the support of my wife and family, I can only retroactively thank one thing for finding my passion of writing again later in life: my education.

Let's go full-circle. Both Springmont and The Galloway School gave me the opportunity to study in the way I wanted, with a focus on falling in love with life-long learning, not memorizing material. I was a little kid who hated math (yes, I know that I'm a sales executive now), but I was given the freedom to learn the things I needed to in the ways I needed to.

I didn't for a second consider how difficult it would be to start writing again. I did what I was taught to do as a child. I took it one day at a time. I stayed disciplined, celebrating each day's small successes, learning more and more with each failure. And then, after four years, I'm married, have two beautiful kids, a published short story, a masters degree, and a published novel (with another(s) in-progress). In the moment, it wasn't easy, and if I knew everything I'd achieve and go through to achieve those things, I may have been paralyzed by the daunting fear of it all, but I didn't. And so, I wasn't.

Writing changed my life. I've created and will continue to create stories that inspire profound emotion and hope. But before any of that was possible, my education created me.

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Jan 05, 2023

Good stuff Andrew! Congrats!

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