The City That Stopped The Cynic, by Kyle Hovanec

Now that Kyle’s collegiate career is near its end, I’m going to give him the Dr. Cox-like hug that my J.D. has so wanted.

I will do this on the very special occasion of the completion of his Invitus Writers essay, The City That Stopped The Cynic, a travelogue that traces his trip to Tokyo after a rather disastrous end to a relationship.

Before I deliver that hug, though, I want to tell you about my first impression of Kyle.

He was in my now infamous Introduction to Magazine Writing class, a weed-out course where I send nearly 50 percent of those who sign up fleeing for other careers. I was dead set on running Kyle out of that class.

Great, I thought, another fanboy who wants to screw around with his life. His writing style was non-existent. His grammar hovered between atrocious and awful. And all he would talk about were movies and video games.

I was relentless in my criticism of his work. I turned back drafts that — thanks to the power of track changes — appeared as if a clown exploded across the page. There were reds, greens, pinks, and purples strewn across his drafts. I was sure he would drop out.

Instead, a funny thing happened.

He took every piece of criticism I threw at him and spun it around. He dug into his writing. He sent draft, after draft, after draft, after draft. I was in a pickle. He wouldn’t drop out so I couldn’t stop editing his work.

Around when went.

He barely escaped my class, but continued to hang around asking for edits on his other work. And then the magic started happening.

His work started getting better. His writing tighter. His story development stronger. Before I knew it, he’d even snagged a few paid writing gigs outside the journalism program. Gone was the meek young boy who showed up in my magazine class, the one who’d nearly left the journalism program because of me.

In his place, a writer.

To this day, I still end every mentoring session with the same advice I’d first given him in that magazine class: don’t embarrass me. It’s my not-so-subtle reminder that he’s not finished yet.

In May, he’ll graduate, which is a little hard for me to swallow. He’s taken three of my classes and he’s a founding member of The Invictus Writers. He’s been nipping at my heels since the day I walked on campus, and while I shoo him away on a regular basis, I’m going to miss having him around the Arts and Journalism building hallways.

He’s turned into one helluva man, and he’s on his way to a long and illustrious career as a writer. I’m happy to have known him for these years. And I look forward to watching what he accomplishes outside the walls of Ball State.

I don’t know what his path will look like, but I am as sure about one thing as I have ever been in my life: he won’t embarrass me.

Good luck, and godspeed Kyle Hovanec. The world awaits more of your words.

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