I've written for fun for as long as I can remember. My friend Tom Skuja and I used to make our own books in elementary school and junior high. (He's published a book of short stories, by the way: The Reluctant Prophet, available on Amazon. I am editing drafts of my first novel- tell you all about it sometime)
I kept writing through high school, and Tom and I shared the school's creative writing prize (never saw him again. You out there, Tom?). Then I went to engineering school. I figured I could be an engineer for a career, and write on the side. One does not find many career writers who do engineering as a hobby, after all.
I was "forced" to take a humanities course in my first year. I passed on the easy ones, like "English for Hockey Players 101" and signed up for a creative writing course. It was the kind where enrollment was limited and you had to have stamped approval. I got it all squared away with the dean of the Liberal Arts college, and a couple of weeks later I showed up for the first class.
I was not welcome.
"Sorry, we're overbooked. You have to drop the class," the professor said.
"But I signed up! I have approval from the dean!"
"That was the old dean. Look, you're in the engineering school, right? Well, we need the seat for the english majors. How'd you like it if an english major took your seat in a physics class?"
"If any English major can handle it," I said, "let him try."
"Sorry, you have to leave. I'm starting class."
So I left. And I went straight to the office of the Engineering dean.
Dean Willis Rich was a trim, neat man in a dark suit. His bright eyes broadcasted a profound intensity. It made slouching undergrads stand up straight and wave the hair out of their eyes.
The Dean's last job had been with the Navy. He had been a submarine captain, commanding both attack and nuclear missle boats. "Start World War III" used to be part of the man's job description.
I knew that taking this to Dean Rich was like turning the first key to arm the nukes. It was up to the Captain to turn the second key, and the English Department was under the bull's-eye.
This post is Completely True.