Asking the Right Questions
Asking the right questions can make all the difference in life, according to Eric Yuhasz, a middle-school science teacher in Orlando, Florida. He knows because he never asked them before launching into the TV news business that he thought he would like, only to discover he hated it.
After a long, twisting road, he wound up pursuing the passion burning within that he never recognized earlier: teaching.
In a nutshell, this search and his work with young teens formed the inspiration for his new book, Empowering Students for the Future: Asking the Right Questions to Teach the Value of Passion, Success, and Failure.
I’m familiar with it because in the summer and fall of 2021 I completed a developmental edit that included rewriting portions of it. I also divided a 56,000-word manuscript into 16 chapters.
Its working title was The Right Questions: An Award-Winning Teacher’s Insights for Creating Successful Learners.
I still like “The Right Questions” as a title because of its short, snappy character.
However, as any author can tell you, when publishers have a different idea for a title, they usually prevail. And overall, I have to admit that the revised title package was superior.
Award for Perseverance
That the book even released a few weeks ago is a testimony to grit, determination and perseverance—Eric’s, not mine.
Twice I tried to connect him with agents whom I thought could help take his work to the next level. After neither lead produced any results, Eric kept going on his own.
He waded through 18 rejections from publishers or agents before British-based Routledge Publishing agreed to look at a couple of chapters. Then they asked to see the rest and made him an offer.
Right before the book’s release, I asked Eric how he felt about becoming a first-time author, considering the yeoman-like effort it had taken to arrive at that place.
He talked about never quite understanding the phrase “tears of joy,” even though he had witnessed numerous athletes winning major championships and the resulting “water works” springing forth.
Yet, for him that just seemed like such an unusual response. That is, he said, until he received THE email from Routledge offering him a contract to publish his book.
(Here I pause to say with self-publishing now so common many newbie authors don’t grasp the significance of having a publisher. That means the company publishes your book without you paying anything.)
Tears of Joy
“It is a good thing I read that email when I was alone in my classroom and not with my students,” Eric told me. “Before I knew it, I was just like those athletes. The water works sprung forth. Let me tell you, those were glorious tears of joy!
“But, there was no time to rest,” he recalled. “The next phase had to begin. Choosing a cover, finalizing the title and multiple edits of the book’s layout happened like a whirlwind.
“Then came the real payoff, receiving my first copy! Holding the published version of my book in all its colorful glory and splendor, I learned once again the meaning of ‘tears of joy.’”
Empowering Students for the Future was such a pleasure to work on that I would surmise that Eric is the kind of teacher many students would like to have, but only a minority receive.
Someone with zeal because they are pursuing a call earns rewards far more valuable than a paycheck.