I’ve revised my blog a bit to take advantage of a new pathway my life has taken over the last couple of years. I began the blog simply to write about the experiences my husband and I have had moving from our little plot in the suburbs to our couple acres in the country–complete with many (many) animals. I surely haven’t exhausted the topic (after all, you haven’t heard yet about even more cats who made their way to us!), and I may even return to it from time to time should the situation warrant. But I’m excited about some new things in our lives (not counting becoming parents-in-law again or now being first-time grandparents).
Many of you know I’ve been working in various areas of publishing for the past 30 years. I walked into my first job not even knowing proofreader marks! The last 20 years or so I’ve spent working with Livingstone, most recently as editorial director. Suffice it to say, I’ve seen publishing change drastically in my time (you’d think I was ninety years old looking back at steam engines–but it almost feels like that when I consider the way I do my job now as compared to when I began).
I love editing. There’s just something about words. How they look on the page bumping up against other words. How they sound. The pictures they bring to mind. I love the search for the right word. I love to make a clunky sentence sing. I love to change “their” to “they’re” (or “there”) when the writer gets it wrong. I love helping writers sound the best they can.
And I love writing.
And I love books.
So all that to say that our journey from the city to the country brought me to a place physically where I already was mentally–it was time to finally get that master’s degree and then begin teaching in order to pass along some of what I know to the next generation.
So here I am, a 54-year-old married grandma graduate student sitting in classes with folks who could be my children. How energizing is that? I love it! Really, I wish I had had half the wherewithal these kids seem to have when I was their age. The students in my Editing class where I teach as an adjunct seem to “get” so much more than I ever “got” at the time. And right now, as part of my research paper/thesis preparation this semester, I get to sit in on a class with one of my favorite professors, Cathy Day. She is creating this class called Literary Citizenship, teaching Creative Writing students what it means to join the world of writers out there in the real world. These students already tweet and have fan pages and web sites and blogs–again, I wish I’d had that kind of gumption in my day (does “gumption” make me sound old? Well . . .).
Think about it–to join any kind of group or community, you have to follow a few ground rules that are just part of being associated there. To pledge a fraternity or sorority, you need to follow certain guidelines. To join a church, you need to make a particular statement of faith. To move into a certain area in town, you need to understand that once in awhile you may be required to open your historic home for people to view (ask Cathy about that) or maybe be part of the annual block party. I had a friend who moved into a house on a cul-de-sac and learned that she was required to have only white Christmas lights on her house–no colored lights. That would mess up the “look” of her community’s little circular part of the world at Christmastime.
Well, Creative Writing students are writers who need to realize they are part of a bigger community of writers. And many of you are writers–writing books, articles, essays, stories, blogs, reports, or even simply journaling your thoughts. You, too, are part of that community. Publishing has changed over these last few decades. You see, it used to be all about getting published. Now, push a few buttons and anyone can be a published author. (That’s good and bad, but also a topic for another blog post.) I like the fact that indie presses are out there taking chances on some of us “little folks” who might not break in to the Big 5. I like the fact that a family member can write up a family history and create a book as a keepsake for his or her limited (but appreciative) audience. Publishing is changing, and it can be tough to keep up. But as writers, we need to realize that it isn’t just about us; it’s about the community of writers–that “world” of writers. It’s about us supporting one another and the writing we create.
It’s all about becoming good literary citizens.
What does that mean? More to come here, but please also follow the rest of my class members’ blogs (the ones who have gumption, remember?) and our fearless professor, Cathy Day, at our Literary Citizenship web site.
Wanna be a writer? Become a good literary citizen. Join us on the journey.