Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another Class; Another Magic Moment

I’ve been teaching a class in how to write, publish and promote your nonfiction book for several years. I have taught it to individuals and groups, for the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the Lindbergh School District’s Adult Education Program, and the St. Louis Community College. Every class is unique, of course. The students are adults of all ages and backgrounds. They have lived lives before they walked into what could be “just another noncredit course.” It might be fun, or it might be a complete waste of time. They don’t know, but I think I do. By the end of the first two hours, I hope I have convinced them that this is going to be a different kind of class, not what they expected, and perhaps even a life-changing event.

I hope that doesn’t sounds arrogant. I say it because I have experienced the incredible dynamics and personal transformations that take place in these classes, year after year. It is difficult to describe the synergy that occurs within a group of strangers who mesh in some inexplicable way. Someone has a question; two people offer answers. One person is stumped on which direction to take; another responds with compassion and insight. And I stand at the front of this high school classroom, transfixed, yet again.

My new class met last night — the class I had wondered whether to teach at all because of the low enrollment. Ultimately, I decided to “trust the process” (see sweatshirt on my last blog) and am so grateful for that decision. The process worked (it always does). Somehow, we ended up with 10 amazing people. I do not use the word “amazing” lightly. It is a wonderful group of individuals who are writing about subjects as diverse and substantive as I could ever hope for.

Some had their sentences nailed: “My book is about _________________.” Others were not so sure, torn between two good ideas and trying to get in touch with their real passion for one of them. This is the exciting part — when everyone is turned on by the possibilities. It is my job to keep them turned on and moving forward toward their completed books. I have no illusions that anyone will write a book in six weeks, unless he or she works on it every waking hour, but I do know they can learn what it takes and get a good start on actually doing it.

I emerge from each of these classes greatly enriched by the people I’ve met and the things I've learned from them. This semester promises to be one of the best ever!


Kim said...

I'm so happy for you! I'll add to your "Trust the Process" that your students should "Trust the Teacher".

gma12 said...

I am so glad you are teaching, but I'm jealous of your new group. What a surprise they have waiting for them. I would love to see how they all change their "my book is about" before the class is over. Don't ever doubt your instincts.