I spent all of yesterday teaching seminars at HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College). I’ve always found from both teaching college classes and speaking at writers’ conferences that I enjoy the experience (though my mouth tends to go dry). I don’t know if I’d want to do it full time, but I always get something out of the speaking experiences.
I like being able to interact with people who share an interest in the subject I’m teaching. Yesterday, it was writing memoirs and the Daughters of Charity work in Gettysburg after the Civil War battle. In listening to questions I get from attendees, I learn where my presentation might be weak. By watching their body language, I can tell what topics attendees find more interesting than others. Then I can adjust myself accordingly to better meet their needs the next time I talk on the subject.
Personally, I tend to surprise myself a lot at how well I know most of the subjects. I don’t say this to be egotistical. However, even if I wanted to be a full-time instructor at most colleges, I couldn’t be since I don’t have a master’s degree. Yet, when I’m talking to a class about writing and they ask a question of me, I can generally answer it and many times, I can also relate it to a real-life experience I’ve had. With the classes yesterday, I had some work experiences in the past week that I was able to use to help answer questions.
I’ve been writing professionally for 23 years. I’ve worked with a wide variety of editors and bosses, media, subject matter and types of writing. Yes, there’s a lot I can still learn, but there’s a lot of steps and missteps I’ve made that can benefit other aspiring writers. In fact, the real-world experience that I bring to the discussion tends to be one thing consistently noted in my class evaluations.
For me, seminars and teaching has been a win-win. The attendees appreciate the information I share and I learn more about myself afterwards. It’s just part of my search for what I want to do when I grow up!