The Teacher is Always the Student - Joanna Campbell Slan

The Teacher is Always the Student


We had a totally excellent “Getting Published” class last night at Lewis & Clark Community College. First of all, I love their Edwardsville campus at 700 Troy. It’s the conclave of brick buildings that I’ve been told was a former factory site. The classrooms are spacious, light and well-appointed.

But what made the class really cool was the students. We had folks who wanted to write novels, those who wanted to write children’s books, and a gentleman who wanted to write non-fiction. Their questions were thoughtful and stimulating. We talked about self-publishing, POD (Publishing On Demand), marketing, publicists, agents, editors, conferences, royalties, and rights. Obviously, these were people who were willing to do their research before embarking on this great adventure called publishing.

At the end of the class, one of my students walked with me to our cars. We stood outside and brainstormed the plot of her novel. Oh, wow, that was so much fun. I love working over ideas with other authors. I felt so stimulated and ready to tackle my work with new vigor.

Here’s the secret: Every class reminds me of how far I’ve come over the years. Sometimes we can’t see where we are on the learning curve until someone asks us a question. Publishing is an incredibly subjective business. Authors spend so much time alone. My agent says we’re all incredibly needy. Well, yeah, because we put ourselves into our work and that’s daunting.

Was I teaching a class? Nah, not really. I was a participant. I was a student, because I had to re-think and review my experiences. I told them “the world according to Joanna.” (That’s a paraphrase of what my pal Vicki Sullivan always used to say with “the world according to Vicki.”) I warned them that I’d share the truth as I’ve experienced it–and the truth as other authors have shared with me.

Wow. What a great shot in the arm. I’m feeling energized this morning!

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