In case you live in St. Louis, I wanted to tell you about some classes I’m teaching at St. Louis Community College’s Meramec campus this spring. This past fall, alas, was a bit of a bust given some unfortunate computer/web-related snafus that meant only one of my classes showed up in the college’s online calendar. Which meant not enough people signed up for any of them, which meant suddenly my Tuesday nights and weekends were free. Given all that, you’d think I would have gotten more writing done last fall, right?
Anyway! Here’s what I’ll be teaching this spring. You can also find them all on STLCC’s website (whew!):
Feb. 25: Social Media for Writers. (Hey, that’s Saturday! Yep, there’s still room in this one.) Oh, the irony, right? It’s not lost on me that the person with the love/hate relationship with Facebook (let’s face it, mostly hate) is teaching a class on setting up all the crap that makes a “platform.” No, I’m not fond of that term, either. So why is the guy who keeps taking social media sabbaticals and who junked his personal Facebook profile last year teaching this class?
Thing is, I wouldn’t have the so-called writing career I have now if it weren’t for social media. The first fellow queer writers I met through blogging; they led me to my first anthology editors, one of whom was my first novel editor and is still a profound influence on me. I’ve “met” and spoken to several writers and readers thanks to Twitter and, yes, Facebook, and those things have also kept me from feeling quite so alone. And I’ve learned a thing or two along the way that have made things a little easier. Hopefully people can learn from my mistakes before they make them themselves.
Feb. 28–March 28: Writing Fiction for Young Adults. This is one of my favorites, because we read and talk about stuff like The Hunger Games and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and David Levithan and, well, you get the picture. Because the only thing better than writing YA is reading YA, and then talking about it and hopefully getting people excited to start writing their own YA books—so that we all have more YA to read. (Did I mention I’m working on a YA?)
March 11: So You Want to be a Writer. This one started out pretty amorphously when they asked me to teach something with this title. But after a little brainstorming I realized: you want to do something, you need a plan. Not just for this class, but for being a writer, and figuring out what kind of writer you want to be. That’s what this class is all about: a little bit of visualizing, a little bit of strategy, and more than a little bit of aid and comfort along the way. It’s probably one of the most fun classes I teach now.
April 28: The First Five Pages. I have my writing group, Writers Under the Arch, to thank for this course. This workshop is for writers who’ve finished their novel manuscript and are looking ahead to submitting to agents and editors. We’ll be talking about their first five pages and trying to figure out what works, where they’re missing the mark, and how to improve them—and how to carry that improvement through the rest of their manuscript.
I’ll be honest. Sometimes I feel like a total fraud when I step in front of a new class. And by “sometimes” I mean “every single time.” I don’t think this feeling ever will go away, and maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know everything, and when I teach I try to approach it from a perspective where I’m saying: “This is what I have been taught, this is what I have learned, and this is what I have figured out on my own through trial and frequently embarrassing error. Learn from my mistakes so you can make completely different mistakes instead!”
So, if you’re in St. Louis, check them out. I’m also open to tailoring these workshops for people who are looking for workshops for their own writing group or band of friends/misfits. Hit me up.