Strange But True by John Searles was the first book I ever had signed by the author. I was a freshman and took a workshop with him through the Writer’s Project. Needless to say I was smitten with his words on writing, fancy job in New York City and fame as an author. The workshop probably wasn’t much different than the other workshop’s I’d taken but it felt so much better. This was my first encounter with a big-name author. Over the past four years I’ve met and grown to love a lot more of them through the Writer’s Project. But back then I was worried that he wouldn’t like me, that he’d think it was weird such a young kid was at his workshop, that he wouldn’t like my writing. But like almost all of the other writers I’ve met, he turned out to be a wonderful person, and extremely supportive of my interest in writing.
John took something of an interest in me, probably because I was the youngest person there by at least fifteen years. After the workshop he introduced me to his partner and his agent. He told his agent I’d be a big famous writer some day. To my fifteen year old self this was the biggest compliment I could be given. Admittedly I hadn’t read his book before the workshop and I ended up being one of those people who buys the book just to have him sign it. I felt guilty even then for doing that, I hate people who do that. But I got it signed and read it immediately afterwards. He wrote “For Celina- I’m so happy to meet you here in N.H. can’t wait to read your novel one day! Keep writing xoxo John.” Maybe he just thought of me as just a young kid with a cute dream of being a writer, but I still open that book up and read what he wrote when I’m doubting myself. Someday I hope I’ll be able to sign my book for him and thank him for having faith in me.