Milestones: Reflections on Writing & Education
This week I received an email with the subject line: Your Hubs have been viewed 1,000 times!
I have a whopping 115 Facebook friends (primarily made up of former students who I hear from maybe once a year, and I’m thinking they probably don’t do a whole lot of unassigned reading). In other words, even if all my contacts were to have clicked on my Hubs, I think it’s safe to say that many of those views include strangers. One lesson I learned early in my writing education was that the label “writer” does not have anything to do with publication. I spent four years as an undergraduate English major and another three years pursuing my Masters in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing—I have met many fine fellow-writers, many of whom dream of publication “some day,” but who struggle to complete their manuscripts, and thus never see that someday. I would also add that the label of writer is not equatable to monetary earnings. Most of my own publications, such as these Hubs, have found audience without monetary compensation. Many of us feel inadequate to reply to someone’s question, “What do you do?” with “I’m a writer.” The phrase implies you make a living doing it. I’d like to use this milestone, however, to reflect on my own love/hate relationship with being a lightly-published, non-earning writer.
If you are drawn to the page—to either puzzle through something that is bothering you, or to calm yourself, or to doodle with words on a slow afternoon, I’d say you are a dabbler of the art. However, if you do all those things—and share that doodle with at least one other individual, I’d say you are a writer. Why? Well, for me, the act of writing is inseparable from the idea of audience. Many writing teachers will say, “Write for yourself—someone else is bound to like it too.” I think that’s good advice in that it prevents writers from writing what they think their audience wants to read but which is nongenuine to their own souls. On the other hand, if you never think about the delivery of your words to the vessel of another, you’re missing out on a valuable piece to the art. The shared space between writer and audience (even if, such as in this case, you may never meet that other) is beautiful. It is human and tender. It is tortured and animalistic. Raw and true.
What do I know?
Another piece of advice you’ll hear in writing workshops is, “Write what you know.” This brings me back to the idea of those 1,000 views. What were they mostly about? Education. This is what I know, and the knowledge has found its audience. I can’t remember my Self before teaching. The act of teaching has always been linked to my own self image. Even as a child, I taught others. I made basement schoolrooms and hoarded utensils. I couldn’t wait to bring home my full backpack at the end of the school year and add the leftover crayons, pencils, and notebooks to my already too-full pile. (I’m attaching a few personal pics to this Hub—as you can see, not much has changed!
In addition to continuing my duties as a college composition instructor, this year has also been an experiment in Homeschooling with my eight year old—something I’ve always dreamed of doing with my two daughters but never had the courage to do. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t been doing much writing about the experience, but I can tell you by looking at my own meager Hub Stats, that the majority of clicks have been those where I put “Homeschool” in the title. In my own region, I’ve found more homeschooling resources than I would have imagined. Recently, I subscribed to a Homeschool Email Exchange, and my daughter now has two out-of-state homeschooled pen pals. There are online magazines, conferences, and special camps all targeted for this audience. It’s time consuming to search for the resources, but they are out there.
If I ever find the time and monetary resources necessary, I’d love to contribute to the collaboration of some of these resources, but for now, I am reaching out to my audience to say, I know you are there. Thank you for reading, and I hope to continue our silent friendship with future Hubs.