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A thank you to the greatest tutor I’ve ever had

The following is an open letter I wrote a few years ago:

Ever since coming to ANU in 2013 I’ve gone from a lonely straight A student with no real social life and many friends to a published author with above average grades, a big smile and a few close and wonderful friends. In first year first semester, not only did I fail my first ever test – a driving test of all things – and my first subject – chemistry is seriously not my strong suit – but I also found myself in a world with few guidelines and thousands of people, and I wasn’t doing very well emotionally. I managed to hang onto a few friends from school but I ended up isolating myself and they had their own problems, so I wasn’t the top of their list. I ended up in a late evening tutorial for anthropology 101, there were only two, occasionally three, people in the class and they were the best people. Our tutor was supportive, kind, and since then I haven’t had anyone who inspired me as much as he has. It was my best subject that semester, and some of the stuff we talked about I still carry with me – and ace whenever it comes up on another test. He gave me a very important piece of advice, and I don’t know why he felt the need to give it, or whether it’s a general piece of wisdom he hands out, but it has shaped a lot of the last eighteen months of my life. He told me that it would help with all the essays and scientific stuff if I kept one foot in fantasy, writing creatively would provide an outlet and help me write essays and reports. I’d always enjoyed creative writing but it was after that exchange that I decided to start properly, chapter by chapter. It’s now 2015, and in January my first book was published: The First Tail. He doesn’t know it yet but he’s going to be in the dedication of the second book. What he said kept me sane for that whole semester, and has kept me there ever since. For me writing is an outlet for reality; in my world I can do anything, I can be anything, I can reinvent whatever I want – that feeling of total control, when combined with the lack of pressure (characters from books don’t often make you do anything, and they certainly don’t make you scrap together an essay the night before) has made my life a hundred times better. Because I felt so much happier and more confident, I was able to make better choices, balance exercise with good food and family time and friends and university and everything else young adults have to pack into their developing heads now. I’m not saying everyone should write a book, though the publication process is certainly an experience, or that it would help anyone in the same way it’s helped me, but for me it has changed everything. I am truly proud of myself for the first time since I was barely thirteen, and for that, with a bit of my own effort, I have my tutor. I want to thank him. Thank you.