I recently attended a bi-monthly dinner held by a group of local writers. It’s a social gathering and a time to relax, network with like-minded people and exchange ideas. The hostess of the event, who initiated this regular get-together and continues to coordinate it for us, was very pleased with the launch of my web site and mentioned it to everyone who stopped at our table. While I worked in tourism and marketing for a number of years, I am better at promoting others and still struggle to “toot my own horn”.
During the evening, one fellow writer joined our table and, when she found out I’d launched my web site and was going to be offering writing classes, boldly asked, “What makes you feel qualified to offer writing classes?”
OK, let me preface this by saying she didn’t want to sound abrupt before she asked her question, but the manner in which it was asked actually took me off guard. I mean, exactly! What made me feel qualified to offer writing class? I have no formal education in writing, other then elementary, high school and college English classes. I’ve been a member of a writer’s group for about 15 years now and I’ve been on several writing retreats, to writer’s conferences and taking various seminars, and I’ve had some work published, both as part of my job, and as a freelance writer; but what exactly qualifies me to teach writing?
Having now recovered my dignity, I’ll add that she did say later on that she wasn’t in the best of moods and she implied that she felt she’d approached the question in what may not have been the best manner, I know I now have my answer.
I love the written word and I truly enjoy sharing that love with others. One doesn’t have to have a college or university degree to teach anything, they simply have to have a love, appreciation, and understanding of the subject. They need to want to share that and they need to connect with others who want to learn from them. Part of the reason I didn’t launch all of my classes right away, was because I knew I myself had to do a refresher class in some of them. I don’t want to try to teach something and feel I can’t give my best to it. I need to know that I’m secure in the information I’m providing. The class I’m offering to start with is the first class for that exact reason. It’s a creative writing class where I provide prompts and the attendees run with whatever ideas that prompt brings to mind. There is no emphasis on previous experience, style of writing, grammar, spelling…none of that. It’s meant to be fun and a way to get outside of your normal thought process when writing and just, Put Pen to Paper (the name of the class).
So, there you have it. I’m offering writing classes because I want to, and because I have people who have expressed interest in attending. I guess, to put it in perspective, it’s the same as writing a book. You write it because you want to and you feel you have an audience out there who will want to read it.
With that, I’m off to put my own pen to paper and write a letter to a friend. Yes, a real handwritten letter.
2 thoughts on “Lesson learned”
Your blog is beautifully set up Jan.
I kept a daily journal for 20+ years. They are stacked in a closet in chronological order holding my life within their pages.
Writing is definitely therapeutic. Pouring my heart and soul into those pages allowed me, as with you, to move through some extremely difficult times.
Writing creates a silent witness of one’s journey through life, a neutral one, the kind we need to continue onward.
The recording of thoughts and actions gives valuable reference points to measure personal progress for we can look back through those writings and know exactly how far we’ve moved forward, stood still, or regressed.
You will inspire others to work through their challenges in kind and they will benefit immensely.
Regarding the woman who asked you the question in such a rude manner I suggest “ego” prevented self-awareness so she was unaware that she projected her own unresolved issues around success, or writing perhaps, onto you.
You did not need to justify your desire, nor your qualifications, to provide the means for others to put their thoughts, emotions and actions into the written word.
Good work Jan. 😊
Thank you Emmana. My hope, through classes I’ll be offering in the future, is to do exactly as you wrote. I hope to inspire others to work through their life challenges and move past whatever is holding them back. Writing was, and continues to be, my therapy as well as my teacher.