Tuesday, February 08, 2005

So what am I doing here?

I've been making pretty good progress in my career lately. Nothing spectacular like the big sales to big companies -- but then, I'd have to send something there and I just haven't lately. I made the sale to Aio, which is great and I'm very happy with the contact I've had there. I love the sales to Yard Dog Press, and I'm really pleased about the short story sale to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.

A lot of work is lined up in the Aio and the next Yard Dog projects. They're going to have most of my attention for the next few weeks. Now that I have something to focus on for both of them, I'm really excited about the work.

Today, after I posted a message about not taking material off the 2YN boards, I got a strange little email. Not a rude one or anything like that, but just a question about what it takes to do classes like that, and at what point someone would be ready to teach. And why do I do it?

First, my feeling is that every writer who has been around for a while, published or not, has something to teach another person. However, they may not have either the patience or the overall knowledge to teach something (like the 2YN classes) that covers many subjects.

I'm not an expert on writing. However, I have read every book that I can and gathered information from every writer I've known. I've edited Vision for over four years, and there's a wealth of information that passes through my hands there. And I'm willing to look at different ways to work and accept that my ways are not always the best for everyone.

So, what do I think it takes to teach a class on writing rather than just to offer help on subjects you know?

First the person should have some clue about what she's talking about. If, for instance, you are doing a class on writing novels then you should have at least finished a few novels. Better still if you've sold a few, even if not to the top companies. At least you'll have a clue of what the process is.

People should not teach others if they really don't know what they're talking about. I've had people suggest that I should just assign different subjects to people to teach, and that, I think is an absolutely horrible idea. People should never teach something they aren't somewhat versed in and interested in, writing or otherwise.

Another big part of doing something like 2YN is to want to help others. That means having patience with people who are worried that they're not doing as well as they should, or who are slow in picking up what -- to you -- seems very easy. Remembering that all writers have different strengths, and just because something I learned seems obvious doesn't mean that either I've explained it well or that it's something another writer will automatically understand.

We've just crossed week 58 in the first year, and I've put something up on the boards for them every single week. Some of it has not been much help. Some has drawn unexpected results. All of it has come from years of practice, reading, choices, successes and failures.

I hope to keep doing the 2YN class every year. It should get easier in some respects. Or it may be, if I'm lucky, that the book will be published in a couple years and I'll lead classes with people working their way through it, rather than waiting on me.

But why do I do it? For the same reason I'm still with FM. Because I have something to offer to other writers, and I love to see other writers succeed. I expect many of them to far outstrip my career. I hope that some of what I offer helps them along their way.

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