Just this year, a community center opened up in my town as a way to give kids a place to hang out and have fun in a more controlled environment. Essentially, to keep them off the streets where they are more likely to get in trouble. Not that there is a terrible problem with vandalism or anything in my town, but just as another way to keep kids in a good environment.
This community center is nice. Really nice. They have games and flat screens and a pool table and ping pong and all sorts of things. They also have classrooms, with is really interesting to me. I think they mainly use it for Sunday school type stuff, seeing as how it is run by the church, but the center is open to anyone and everyone, essentially. So, after doing some serious thought, I figured, “I know a fair amount about creative writing, and it would be cool to talk to some other people about it, get some ideas, maybe even teach a few people a thing or two. Why not setup some creative writing classes?”
And that’s exactly what I did. I happen to be friends with the director of the center, so setting is up was easy. And, in no time at all, I had six classes setup, open to the public, for just $10 a person.
However, all the excitement aside, I still have a nagging thought. Am I qualified to teach? I don’t have a master’s degree. What little teaching experience I have comes from being a teaching assistant and watching how my creative writing professors taught. I’m not a bestselling author, nor do I live off my writing. All of this sort of makes me feel like a hack.
Yet, I am a writer. I’m apparently proficient enough to freelance for a newspaper and to sell some books, making me a professional. My books have gotten some pretty good reviews, too, but I still don’t know if that qualifies me to actually teach anything. So, instead, I’m calling these creative writing seminars. I’m not necessarily teaching anything, because I don’t know if there really is a way to teach creative writing. There are tips and rules, but these are often broken and work out quite well, other times they don’t work out so well. It’s all about trial and error and knowing some basic ideas about how to write. You can’t exactly teach something like that.
So, my plan is to talk about what I do. What works for me, what processes I go through, and what I’ve done to get to where I am now. Not that I’m a wildly successful author, but I’ve had some amount of success. I’ve been through enough trial and error to where I think I can inform people of some of the pitfalls. And a lot of this will be based around writing for self-publishing, seeing as how that’s what I know how to do.
So, that’s my plan. These sessions are going to be very conversational. Well, hopefully, anyway. I have a specific theme set for each class (one on characters, one on dialogue, etc.) But I think in order to be successful I will have to know what types of readers and writers will be attending. So, I need to learn some things about these people. Who are their favorite authors? What are their favorite books? Do they have any experience writing? I’ll also be giving them a sort of “assignment” where they write a few page short story, after which I’ll be asking them how they felt writing it. If they liked writing it. What about it they liked, and things like that.
All in all, I think it will be a lot of fun. I’m pretty nervous, but I think once I get through the first seminar I’ll loosen up a bit. I’ve got all the lessons planned out, and I figure the sixth (last) seminar will focus on the steps of self-publishing. In a town like mine, where the main focus isn’t so much on creativity and reading and writing, I think it will be good to see if I can help positively influence that.