Erlick Confronts Rookie Mistakes


First time author Nikki Erlick walked out on the Little Theater stage, laughing nervously as she shared how minutes before she had been looking up how to deal with stage fright, receiving an understanding chuckle out of the students packed in the theater. She was quick to note how it was not long ago that she was in their place.

Before publishing her debut novel The Measure, Erlick had lost her travel magazine editing job at the outbreak of the pandemic, forced to move in with her parents at 26. She notes that at the time she felt like she had hit rock bottom, with control of only the story she was writing, originally brainstorming in 2018. “Writing became an unexpected strength and power [for me],” she divulged. She asserted that she will pursue her career as an author, dedicating the upcoming year to full-time writing.

The Measure bases itself around a scenario where all the people in the world receive a box that contains a string that shows the length of their life. It follows eight individuals whose lives intertwine over the course of the narrative, as they debate the choice to learn their life expectancies. When asked if she would hypothetically open her box, she shared “probably not.”

While Erlick was always a strong academic student, she found socializing and seeking help as an author difficult. Her greatest regret while writing the book is not reaching out to those outside of her immediate family and failing to utilize the online community of authors that had grown stronger through social media and social distancing. Erlick did not even reveal to friends that she had been writing a novel out of fear that she would be criticized as a failure.

Despite the global situations that pushed her to publication, Erlick asserts that “not all things happen for a reason” and that she instead made the best out of a bad scenario. This mentality came into proactive just moments before, as a fire alarm led to an interrupting evacuation before attendees were able to return to her address.

The attending student body was largely respectful, even in the midst and aftermath of the unexpected fire alarm. The students applauded Erlick’s answers about where she attended college and her SAT score–Harvard and long forgotten, respectively. While slightly flustered about her education, she remained after the bell to answer questions of curious students, taking the time to personally sign a book for a newly minted supporter.

She closed by advising young writers to abandon any preconceived notions of an “ideal process” or of the ideal “author” or “novel,” and to instead write in a way that brings personal results.