The Writer in the Math Class | Teen Ink

The Writer in the Math Class

April 10, 2018
By CatNovelist GOLD, Berkeley, California
CatNovelist GOLD, Berkeley, California
10 articles 1 photo 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If you can quit writing, then quit. If you can't quit, you're a writer."

“...And that’s why there are people working at Starbucks who have much more education than I do.” My head jerked up from it’s uncomfortable postition of lying on the desk, despite my lack of sleep. My math teacher, Ms. Grahm, had been talking about her ‘true dream’ of going to culinary school and now she was advice? A student raised their hand, and she smiled. Soon she was talking about degrees.

“One should consider the job market when choosing a degree. This is because some degrees are not that useful.” My hand flew up into the air with that last sentence.

“Yes, Sandra?”

“What kind of degrees would you consider not useful?” My voice quavered, and I felt an air of uncertainty settle around the math class.

“Well, um. Again, it depends on the job market. For example, if you loved history, you might want to get a degree in history, but what if the job market only has mostly tech jobs open? You might want to reconsider what you want your degree to be.” She left me and the class to stew with that information and opened a google doc about finding x. I raised my hand again.

“Ah, yes?” Ms. Grahm said, annoyed.

“So, say, um,  that I-uh I’m trying to choose a degree, and I come to you. Say I...want to write, and pursue a creative writing degree, but the job market only really has tech jobs. Would you say I should pursue a degree in tech?”

“Um. Well, I think in that case you should minor in tech, at least, and maybe look at alternative writing jobs, like journalism, that are not creative writing, per say, but...ah.” Ms. Grahm trailed off.

“What if there are no journalism or other writing jobs open--”

“We’ll talk about this later, Sandra. In the mean time--”

Another student raised their hand. “Um, Ms. Grahm, I’d like to talk about the college thing?”

“No more questions. Let’s continue with these algebraic equations.” My math teacher smiled, and began the slideshow.

The girl sitting next to me whispered, “Do you want to be a journalist?” I turned my head to face her.


“What do you wanna be then?” The boy sitting across from me asked, after failing to flip a bottle over perfectly. Like anyone here had ever succeeded.

“A-a writer.” That was true. I do want to be a writer. More than anything. A professional one. A good one. 

The boy frowned. “Sounds boring.”

A grin spread to my face, and I ducked my head down to hide it. “Trust me,” I said, “being a writer is the least boring thing I could imagine.”

Later I would find out Ms. Grahm did not intend on talking to me about college and jobs and all that. Later, my dad would say I might have touched on some of her insecurities, that I might have noticed some undertones to her little speech other classmates might not have picked up on.

The thing I will remember, though, is that when I raced to the library after saying I had to go to the bathroom, and started typing madly on a school computer all the words I had heard in an email I was to send myself, in that instant, I felt like a writer.

The author's comments:

Though I have changed the names, my math teacher did say this.  I still think about this conversation. It stuck with me. It was one of the first times I truly loved being a writer. 

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