Part I HERE
So, I became a teacher after college.
Teaching was life and the kids in my 5th grade, 6th grade, and 4th grade classes were the biggest parts of that life. E.L.A. was my specialty (which stands for English Language Arts) and while we spend a good deal of time reading short, non-fiction articles based around the state’s Common Core Standards, novels were my favorite. Teaching them prose and getting them engrossed in the Percy Jackson series and the Chronicles of Narnia were the personal highlights of those times.
Reenacting boss fight against the Minotaur with Final Fantasy music.
Turkish Delight Day in class, where we discovered the joy of powdered sugar covered gel.
Those moments you can’t find in any other career. Trials and heartache that build you up just to say, “Thank You, Mr. Acosta.”
I left that.
It’s a difficult fact to admit, but I willingly chose to step away from that. Not for any monetary or bureaucratic reasons.
I left because I wanted to be a writer.
It was a slow turn, one that would begin when I saw what effect these stories had on my kids. Their lives were changed and courses were shifted by what they saw in those characters. Some would dress up in Camp Half-Blood costumes for Halloween while others gave me facts on World War II evacuees, all on their own. I only focus on these two because they’re the most vivid, but trust me, there were other novels in high circulation in the class. (Hellooooooooo Ever After High, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Dork Diaries!)
And I felt that rush, that tingle you get, when stories pop into your mind.
It, like teaching, is something unmatched in anything else.
So in my limited free-time as a full-time educator, I took part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the online novel writing movement, five separate times and won three.
I’ve written 3 books, that’s what “winning” meant. You finished. Wow. It’s not a lot, when compared to accomplished and hard-working novelists, but I loved every second of it. Granted, none of them are publish-worthy, but that act was enough to entice me back into creating.
Suddenly, my lesson plan books were no longer just plotting out the week’s activities, but plotting out story ideas. For my 3rd attempt at NaNoWriMo, I made all of October, November, and December a NaNoWriMo event with my advanced reading class. Together, we all wrote books. Thirty 5th grade kids, clicking away on their school issued laptops, all hoping to hit their 10,000, 15,000, or 20,000 word goals.
Yeah…they did all those words…
From that year forward, my path became a little murkier. Murkiness leads to freedom, though, because it means nothing is decided for you.
And so, two years ago, with the help of my now-wife, I made a choice.
Try to make it as a professional author.
I’m still at it. Working on a few things, but I feel like a lot of gonna-be writers say that, so I’ll be more specific. I have two short stories I’m editing to submit for publication. Maybe they’ll be accepted, maybe they won’t, but I’ll keep going, and I’m writing a novel, Project: HARP, which I’ve talked about before, and will have a 1st draft done by June 30. That’s all I can say, because there’s not much else to say.
This is writing.