I've known for awhile that I wanted to teach again. If I ever had to go back into the classroom--god forbid--I'd get some more coursework in art and pursue an art job. But I'd actually like to teach writing to teenagers and adults--get good enough technically to teach. I know firstand the disconnect between teaching and knowledge and I hold myself to a pretty high standard. From what I can tell, anybody who bangs out a book and sells it can teach a class on writing. No doubt they've got the knowledge, but most of them couldn't teach themselves out of a room with four doors. Most of it is shameless self-promotion.
I actually have been a teacher by trade, and I'd love to teach something I'm so passionate about. I think it would round out a writing career nicely, and keep me from being too anti-social and squinty-eyed from staring at a screen for hours on end every week. I have no idea if anyone would be all that interested in what I have to say. I like to think that my angle would be story-telling.
I was questioned at length about writing last night and of course about four people said they like the idea of writing a book but don't know what they'd write about. I replied that you either have a story to tell or you don't. One guy told me that was profound, but it's not. It's a truth we take to bed every night from the first word we put on a page. I've lived with that truth a long time. I wrote my first story in fourth grade, my first book when I was 13, and kept on half-way through college. Then I took a fifteen year hiatus. Too busy living, I ran out of stories.
I had a great writing prof in college who had written for the Barney Miller show. While my classmates, grad students all and I a lowly sophomore, wrote dejected stories with dry sex scenes and clever, inconclusive dialogue, I wrote a happy little piece about kids seeing their old high school friends the first Christmas home from college. It's called Snowangels. It's not exactly terrible, I'll give myself that.
Here's an example from the first page:
“You look good, Hanson,” he said.
“You too, Penning.”
He cast a shrewd gaze on the people scattered across the gymnasium and slung an arm across my shoulders. “You know, Hanse, it’s good to be back. It was damn good to get away, but it’s good to be back.”
I nodded. I knew exactly what he meant. At school I wasn’t exactly homesick, but not exactly home either.
My prof LOVED it, embarrassingly so, and as a consequence my classmates loathed me. He held it up as an example of what a story should be. I wondered for a long time why he loved it. It has ordinary writing, no big words, no clever phrasing, a simple theme, and one obvious conclusion.
I think now that's what he liked. Of course other meanings and themes emerged, he spoke of them ad nauseum (you should see his scribbles on my manuscript), but my voice didn't stand between them and the reader. I think that's my niche: simplicity is golden.
On that note, I'm heading back into Tosquia with Ashetan and Ereq.