Andromeda/Your Turn: What Do You Hope To Learn This Year?

My kids went back to school yesterday, and even though school starts earlier these days than it used to, it seemed like the weather understood, unleashing the feel and fragrance of fall. Have you felt that new bite in the air, even on sunny days? Does it take you back to your own days of sharpening pencils, buying new backpacks and shoes? Have you thought about something you’d like to learn this year?

I’ve been reading all over the map to learn more about POV and chronology in fiction (hint: I’m teaching two short classes on those topics this fall). I know why I’m immersing myself in those subjects: because I want to be more grounded in my own fiction.

I’ve also been reading a lot of memoir lately– wonderful books by Tobias Wolff, David Gilmour, Lucy Grealey, Karen Armstrong. I’m learning, as one learns again and again, that the same tools used in memoir apply to fiction and vice-versa, but I’m also learning that some memoirs appeal to me much more than others. I plan to keep following that trail to some new question or understanding I can’t put into words yet.

On a more practical note, my husband and I are thinking about completely updating and reissuing an old guidebook of mine. My first potential foray into self-publishing: that’s going to take a lot of learning. I’m not exactly looking forward to opening the box of page design software that arrived from Amazon last week, but I don’t want to be left behind in the technological dust, either. Call it a required course. Pass/fail.

I probably won’t learn this year where, exactly, to channel my energies. I continue to read and write across genres. I continue to question whether it’s worth focusing on the genre I love best, or dabbling in order to encourage cross-fertilization and self-replenishment. Some days, I feel like life is really short and we should try to become more expert in one narrow area. Other days, I feel like specialization is for ants and we should throw open our arms and our hearts to all kinds of writing, including experiments that won’t necessarily find a readership.

So, that’s what I plan to learn eagerly, learn hesitantly, and perhaps not learn at all this new “school” year. I’d love to hear from some of you. Taking a class? Reading a certain author? Learning how to put together an author website? Hoping to discover something specific about your literary self? Share with us.

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