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Nick Mainieri, English professor and author, gives insight about his upcoming book “The Infinite” on August 24.

Nicholls professor reveals inspiration for teaching and writing

September 1, 2016

Nick Mainieri, assistant professor of English, discusses the inspiration behind becoming a professor and his novel “The Infinite.”
It wasn’t until Mainieri’s college years that he realized he wanted to write for a living.

“I always liked to write,” Mainieri said. “I figured out that it was a thing you could take seriously and pursue probably not until I was in college. Maybe 19 years old or something.”

Mainieri’s love for writing was not the only thing that encouraged him to become an English professor; his professors in college had an influence in his choice as well.

“English professors were some of the greatest people who have had an influence in my life when I was in college,” Mainieri said. “When I think of some of the teachers I had in college, they really showed me and helped me be able to put into words the kind of things I felt when I read books that moved me.”

Before Mainieri worked on his novel, “The Infinite,” he wrote many short stories.

“In a way, short stories help you learn your craft,” Mainieri said. “They help you earn your narrative voice. They help you figure out the things that you care about, the things that you’re interested in, and the things you’d like to explore.”

Mainieri’s idea for “The Infinite” didn’t happen all at once. Many of the events he encountered in New Orleans lead to the creation of “The Infinite” and what it is today.

“I know for ‘The Infinite,’ the story that is in that novel came out of things that I encountered upon moving to New Orleans,” Mainieri said.
Mainieri visited a high school in New Orleans that was scheduled to close at the end of the semester. The school’s faculty and students were aware of the future events.

“All the kids I met were smart, nice, resilient kids in the face of all these really long odds,” Mainieri said. “The school had some rough times and a lot of problems.”

Another event that inspired Mainieri’s plot for “The Infinite” was when he had first moved to New Orleans.

“Some of my neighbors were these day laborers who were from Mexico and Central America and were working to rebuild the city,” Mainieri said. “Often a great peril to themselves, living these very challenging lives doing very dangerous work, being exploited, wage theft. They’re victims of violent crimes and all sorts of things.”

Mainieri said he was amazed that the men were met with anything but gratitude.

He wanted people outside of New Orleans to get a sense of the troubles that were occurring in the city. The series of those events created the backdrop to “The Infinites” storyline.

Mainieri is relieved that all his hard work will show when his novel, “The Infinite,” releases Nov. 15.

“I’m relieved that the work came to something that’s just gonna be out there in the world,” Mainieri said. “I like my life, I have a good family and good job. It was worth it. I’m teaching here and able to write things that will maybe find an audience. That’s good for me.”

Not many people are aware of the work that goes into writing a novel.

“I’m constantly starting, restarting, and rewriting,” Mainieri said. “Draft after draft after draft, there’s a whole lot of crap that nobody sees before the final thing ends up in print.”

Mainieri encourages aspiring writers to follow their dreams.

“For any writer who’s getting rejections for the things that they write or doubting themselves, just take pride that you’re actually stepping into the area and giving it a shot.”

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