I’ve been teaching two classes of Adult-Ed students about writing and the creative process.
One class, Your Legacy of Words, focuses on writing a personal narrative history and doing so in a way that straddles the line between Date-Place genealogy and more literary memoir.
The second class is a Fiction Basics class where we are breaking down the craft of fiction writing into smaller chunks and finding entry points for this class of (mostly) fledgling writers.
In both classes, I get to read the work of the students.
I am reminded, as I make notes and suggestions, of the old adage: You learn more by TEACHING a subject than you do by simply PRACTICING it. Here I am, in a pretty good place as far as knowledge of writing, but when I’m pressed to put those things I “know” into words of explanation, I find that I can stand a bit more refining of both my understanding, and my ability to present what I know.
Whether I’m being pressed in class to explain what I meant, or when I’m attempting to explain why a certain written passage isn’t working in a student’s writing, I am being constantly challenged to deepen my own understanding and really apply those same lessons to my own work.
Yes, teaching takes away from my own writing time. (Ask any writer who also teaches, and you’ll hear how little time they often get to focus on their own work.) And, the adult-ed world doesn’t pay much more than enough to cover gas and expenses getting to and from the school. But, there are benefits to being there. I’ve met some great people with interesting stories, and my writing, and my life, is better for it.