Full Circle

Tyler Cook, M.A.Ed

When I started my graduate program at Appalachian State University, I told myself, “You’re never going to finish this thing…two years is gonna take forever.” Depending on the day you asked me, I may have confirmed this was the case. But in the end, two years have come and gone in a heartbeat. Last week, I officially earned my graduate degree, a Master’s in Higher Education: Community College and University Leadership. My excitement about this is inexpressible.

The past two years has been incredible. I have met some wonderful classmates and instructors, I have learned important lessons about education in the college setting, and I have developed an even stronger work ethic than I could have even imagined. The things I have learned through this program will carry me on to new and exciting adventures.

That said, I spent a lot of the past two years yearning for the writing and publishing experience. I swore that I would not entertain any projects during that time of my life, and for the most part, I kept true to my promise. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, and being in isolation for weeks at a time, I gained a new surge of creativity and passion for my art. While still trying to restrain myself, I managed to produce multiple story outlines that I will be able to work on for the foreseeable future. I am so excited about the direction I’m heading in, and I can’t wait to start on these stories that have spoken so profoundly to me.

As many of you know, I don’t do things easy. I would even go as far as to say that I don’t take a breather. This was definitely true at the conclusion of my graduate program. On August 3, I turned in my final project, and then August 4, I started on my first publishing project. You would have thought that I wanted to spend a little bit of time savoring the accomplishment I had made and not feeling obligated to work on anything. But that’s on me. After the passing of my great-aunt, Eva McCall, I promised myself and her memory, that I would return to my roots and publish the incomplete manuscript, Homebred, a southern mystery/romance. So, the first chance I could, I picked it up and started going through it, taking the first steps into making her vision a physical reality. What a perfect return to the publishing/writing world; I’ve come full circle.

While this new journey may be my most challenging yet; finishing a story that someone else started and ensuring that it fits with what the author originally intended for their characters will be no easy job. But just like I did eight years ago, taking on the daunting task of publishing my first book with Eva, Murder on Haint Branch, I’m ready to take on the task and bring one of her final works into the hands of her beloved readers.

On top of completing Eva’s legacy, I have many ideas that I am so excited to start working on. These stories, if they come to fruition, will hopefully extend my writing skills and creativity to new horizons. No idea is alike, and I believe will appeal to readers of all groups. All I need now is the time to sit down and put together the new pieces of my own legacy.

Thanks for reading this post. Writing it gets me excited for the things that are to come, and I can’t wait to share what comes out of it.

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