Adversity unlocks hidden talent
First-year College student overcame illness and published book by age of 18
First-year College student Schuyler Ebersol did not have a normal high school experience. For three years he suffered from Autonomic Neuropathy, a nerve disorder brought on by Lyme’s Disease, which rendered him unable to walk or attend school. To fill his time, he began writing.
“I wrote to escape from [my illness],” Ebersol said. “Writing is just as fun as reading a book, playing a video game or watching a movie. I can control what happens.”
Ebersol wrote what later became his first novel, The Hidden World, during the medical leave of absence which excused him from his sophomore and junior years of high school. The main character in the novel is adopted into a wealthy family and leads a privileged life. Ebersol explains how his protagonist emulates components his own life was lacking at the time.
“The qualities of the main character are the opposite of me and my life in that period,” Ebersol said. “I made my main character do things I couldn’t do. He was popular and good at sports and I was never good at sports [because of my illness.]”
Furthermore, Ebersol characterizing his protagonist as having grown up in a privileged environment was no incidental occurrence.
“I was very frustrated growing up reading books with characters all with bad backgrounds,” Ebersol said. “Why can’t they have a good life? “
Ebersol, after finishing his novel, decided to get it published. It took him eight months to find an agent and a year and a half to see the novel hit the stands. The tedious process did not deter him from writing additional novels, though.
“I’ve started over 50 books—five to fifty pages, anywhere in between,” Ebersol said. “I know it’s the right idea when I’m able to keep writing it.”
Ebersol has written four additional novels and is 150 pages into his next project. Most of his stories take place in the realm of science fiction and fantasy.
“When I grew up, the biggest and most important literature to me was Harry Potter,” Ebersol said. “I wrote what I wanted to read. If you like Harry Potter, I think you would like something like this.”
Ebersol’s friend, first-year College student Will Chisom, read his novel over winter break.
“I read it in a day and a half and I looked forward to reading it every time I picked it up,” Chisom said. “If I didn’t know he wrote it, I would’ve thought a grown man did.”
Other people, like Chisom, have been impressed by Ebersol’s writing accomplishments.
“When I tell people [I’m an author], they’re impressed and they ask me, ‘Why did you even go to college?’” Ebersol said. “I’m interested in a lot of different things. I don’t just want to be an author.”
Between fraternity pledging and schoolwork, Ebersol said he only has time to write two to three times a week for a half hour or so- not as much as he would like.
“My illness seriously impacted me—I didn’t have a life or friends. It put everything into serious perspective,” Ebersol said. “Nothing is more important than health and now that I have that, I appreciate little things like being able to walk and hang with friends.”