Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How Physics Helped Me Become an Author

Remember all those math courses you were required to take for your high school diploma and/or your university degrees? How many times did you wonder, "What good is all this math? I'm not planning on becoming a mathematician, and besides...I have a calculator." The same was true with Physics. All right, I admit the science of physics might possibly help you as a human being with some Law of Physics that might pop up in your everyday life.

Physics, though, almost did me in. I was an Education major, with biology/science as a teaching field. I took all the biology courses I could, knowing that Physics was also on my Required Courses List for my degree. I could not graduate without it.
The first day of class for this horrendous subject rolled around all too soon. I entered the elevated lecture hall that held three hundred students. I spotted an empty seat five rows up. Excusing myself halfway down the row, I sat down, flipped the desktop over my lap, and placed my books and notebook there.

The year: 1968--I was 28 years old with preschoolers at home. And way out of my element.

Enter the professor, who looked to be about thirty years old and resembled a young Steve McQueen. Not very tall, blonde, cute, fit. He announced his name and said:
"I intend to be an astronaut one day, but in the meantime, I will teach you everything you need to know about physics. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I will give my first lecture, complete with drawings on the chalkboard. Listen carefully--if you do not understand this elementary problem when I finish, pick up your books, walk out, and proceed to the registrar's office and drop this course. You cannot pass if you do not understand what I do today."
So, he proceeded filling up the chalkboard with a lesson on Vectors. Remember Vectors? When he finished, several students began to pack up and walk out. I sat there perspiring, with my heart beating too hard, and very close to crying. I HAD to have this course to graduate.

He might as well have titled his lecture "MAN FROM MARS SPEAKS GOBBLEDY-GOOK TO EXPLAIN VECTORS."

Next to me, the blond young woman--probably twenty years old--actually did begin to weep. I said, "I guess you didn't understand the lecture."
"No," she said, wiping her eyes, "and I must have this course to graduate."
"Me, too," I confessed.

"Well, are you going to drop?"

Taking a deep breath, I said, "No. I'll try as hard as I can to pass. I don't even know enough math for this. But I can learn and work hard, and so, I'll give it a go."

"Will you help me? Be my lab partner?" she asked.

I suggested she might get some young engineering student as a partner--not someone like me who knows zip about this. But she wanted someone to feel secure, she said, so we sealed the deal.

To make a long story short, in the labs I developed a way to work backwards with the apparatuses we were manipulating. Don't ask me how I did it...but since I knew the problem and the desired outcome, instead of going from the beginning, I set up the outcome, then worked backwards. Another student--who was taking the course a second time--gave me some advice. He said, the lab professor is quite old, and tired, so when you write up your lab report, write as many pages as you can and include numerous drawings. He goes by volume, not so much content. Well, you should have seen my lab reports. I--and my little friend--made A's in lab. The lecture exams were another problem, but I did know enough to get by. With the lab grade averaged with my lecture grades, I came out with a C the first semester. I cried--well, I'd only made A's in my courses, and I never expected a C in anything. But realizing I was lucky, I worked harder the second semester and made a B. I thanked God for those grades.

Perhaps you get the point of my ramblings today. Never in my wildest imagination did I think I could write a story and get it published as a novel. Actually, the thought never occurred to me. However, after a few incidents in my life, I found myself writing and working hard to polish a manuscript enough to submit to an editor.

There were those unfortunate tries at submitting, but even though New York kept rejecting me and suggesting I get an agent, I continued on my set course of publication. By then I discovered electronic books and found an entire new world and way of accomplishing my goal.

I still thank The Wild Rose Press for my first published novels. They opened the door and believe me, I rushed in. Today, I marvel at the number of works published with Celia Yeary-Author on them. It's still a thrill, just as it was when I received my degree from Texas Tech University, claiming I had successfully completed ALL required courses.

Anything I can do, you can, too--that is, if the desire is there, in your heart and your mind.

What was your inspiration for forging ahead against all odds?

My Publishers:
The Wild Rose Press
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Desert Breeze Publishing
Whiskey Creek Press
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  1. Hi Celia! This was such a great post! I loved how you just forged ahead. I think that's what inspires me is when people continually say it can't be done, I want to prove it can. And I'm not afraid of hard work to see it through.

    Thanks so much for sharing!


  2. Thank you, Kirsten--if I could do physics, I could write a book and get it published. The easier one--getting published. At least I did not stay up half of each night and lose weight to the point of making myself sick!
    Thanks..it can be done.

  3. Good for you! I couldn't do Physics 'cos I couldn't do Maths, but I too wanted to be an astronaut - then. Now I have far too much common sense to want to leave Earth!

  4. I had a similar experience with Calculus, but I came out with a 50%. The professor sat me down and said, "Do you promise me to never, ever take a science course again?" I swore I wouldn't. I said I loved English Lit. "Okay, fine." He said. and I got 50%. I've never celebrated such a low grade in my life before or since, but I did that day! :D

  5. Oh my goodness and she a brainiac too. That is awesome that you gave it your best like that then and now.

    Tina Pinson

  6. Many congrats on your perseverance and success with Physics. I'm sure I would have failed miserably as my brain simply will not wrap itself around science or maths. I had no idea what Calculus was all about (and still haven't) but I learnt all the formulae and when to use them (even tho' I had no clue why), and managed to pass!

  7. Oh Celia, Botany was that way for me. Horrid, horrid class! I'm still not happy with the C but it was a good life lesson.

    Great post! Determination is indeed the key.

  8. I so connect with this because I
    had to memorize my math books - no way I could hear the teacher's explanations with their backs turned to me while they drew equations on the board. By memorizing my books, long evenings after class, I knew what was there and so could answer everything except any extraneous things the instructor threw in. But
    I paid a HIGH price for my Laser Technology degree.

  9. Hi Celia,

    What a great post. I'm a scientist and I struggled with physics. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why anyone would want to know how much a dock moved when someone dived off the other side.

    To make matters worse, our physics teacher had a great sense of humor and was cross-eyed. I could never figure out if he was looking at me or across the room.

    Like you, I adopted a mentality of I have to pass these courses, and I did. But I had to dig deep in the gumption-well.

    You should be proud of all your books. Each one is a success.

    Take care, Maggie

  10. JEN--an astronaut? I can honestly say I never dreamed of being one. Me and math still don't get along. Thanks!

  11. Patty--how funny! I just know that's what the choir director would tell me if I wanted to sing in the choir--"promise me you'll never try out again."
    I aspired to sing--I played the piano, and oh, how I wish I could sing, too. But I knew as a teenager I could not.

  12. Tina--no, not a brainiac! I just work hard. I've been called an "over-achiever," as in "your sister was really the smarter one, but you made better grades because you studied more.
    With my writing, I've been asked what a surprising thing there is about me--my answer? "I have a killer instinct. I want to win."

  13. Paula--I didn't have to take calculus, and man, am I glad about that. To this day, I don't know what algebra is all about, even.
    And I produced two children who are math whizes--one with a phd in mathematics. They got it from their dad--I'm sure they're all embarrased about my being math illiterate.

  14. LK--botany? Oh, I loved those courses! You must not have liked the identification process which is tediously done under a microscope. See...I ate that up.

  15. Delores--I cannot identify, but I surely do admire you. I think you have some of that killer instinct, too--do or die.

  16. Maggie--I wanted to see what you said--so thanks bunches for commenting. At least you can closely identify. I would never have take physics on my own. Only by the threat of no graduation did I do that.
    Thanks---you're a good friend.

  17. Fantastic blog. My physics teacher told me once that "I didn't have a logical bone in my body". When I passed my course (I agree by a hairbreadth) I went to him and he didn't believe me. He said "YOU?" Then, I guess because I crumpled, he hugged me quickly and grinned,"Only badgering would make you pass!" (This was 1969 when a teacher could make that sort of innocent/positive reaction) I never forgot that and it made me forever say I CAN DO THIS!

  18. Nancy--yea! A sister in poor physics skills. Yes, during those years things like hugs were more innocent. Sad situation, now.
    I'm glad to see others like me--however I would have been happier if all of us could have used our brains for at least one difficult course. I had no problem with any other--basically, just physics.

  19. What a fun post, Celia. In high school I was lucky enough to ace my first tests in physics and chemistry. I'll never forget the big smile of Mr. Behner as he handed me back the papers, and I became the teacher's pet according to my classmates. It determined my career, Pharmacy School and later Ph.D. in Chemistry. Guess what, it's because of my work as a chemist and my business trips that I wrote my fist book To Love A Hero.

  20. Mona--I knew you had a knack for such courses. I just knew you'd have a great story to tell! I don't know how you did it--it was all like a foreign language to me. I deal with the physical world, the life sciences, nothing to do with math, etc.
    I'm very happy to know you, someone who is brilliant in areas where I am a complete dunce.
    I remember your book, To Love a Hero! It was so....you!
    Thanks for your comment. I would have felt neglected if you had not said something. I KNEW you were the real genius among us. Love you.....

  21. Hi, Celia, I did the same thing with calculus. It didn't help me become an author, but it was a required course I needed it, so I got through it, one problem at a time. TWRP gave me my first opportunity to be a published author as well. Thin Ice was published after two rounds of rejections and 17 years of revisions. Then it won an EPPIE and a Golden Leaf award. So perseverence does pay!

  22. Liana--You're so right--perseverance is the key, in most cases. I'm stubborn enough to keep trying, and if one thing doesn't work, then something else might. The word calculus makes me shudder!

  23. Celia, some day I'm going to get here early if it won't cause you to have a heart attack. Statistics were my feared downfall. I passed up majoring in Psychology because I thought I couldn't pass the required stat class. Then, before I got my Ed. Specialist Degree I had to take it anyway. And guess what, it wasn't really math as I knew it, and I made an "A."

  24. Linda! You made it! No, I wouldn't faint if you got here early. But anytime you can and have time, I love it.
    I had statistics in something, but can't remember exactly which course. It wasn't bad, but I'm sure we only skimmed the surface. All I remember for sure are mean, median, and....see...I already forgot. Thankfully, I don't have to use that skill, anyway.