Crib Notes: School’s Out (Or In)

Abigail Green By Abigail Green

My mother just retired after 30+ years teaching high school English. (She still corrects my grammar, and I still don’t understand the difference between “who” and “whom”). Every year about this time, she’d start showing signs of weariness. The end of the school year was in sight, and her students were getting antsy. They wanted to be outside, not cooped up in a classroom. “If I can just make it till June,” Mom would sigh.

While many people are counting the days until school’s out, I just signed up for a new class. Throughout my freelancing career, I’ve engaged in all kinds of classes, workshops, and conferences-some online, some in-person, some free, some paid, some great, some so-so, most writing-related, some not, but all worth it.

Part of why I continue to take classes is that I love to learn. I’ll read an article on fish hatcheries or airport design if it’s sitting in front of me. I’ll watch a documentary on prisons or the Panama Canal if it catches my eye. And a particularly intriguing writing workshop can rev up my enthusiasm when I’m dragging. You never know what you might learn.

And, with classes, you never know who you might meet. Case in point: I’m writing this column because I made a connection with Christina Katz when I took one of her online classes two years ago. I’ve met classmates who’ve turned into friends and mentors, and networked with people I’d never otherwise have met.

To my surprise, there’s been another, more tangible benefit to my continuing education. Almost every single piece that I’ve developed in a writing class has sold. An essay I worked and reworked for weeks in one class sold to SELF magazine for a four-digit sum. (Alas, it never ran.) An essay I wrote in Christina’s class will soon be published in American Baby (fingers crossed).

I can’t say exactly why my class work got published over other articles, which, in my opinion, were equally good. It certainly may have something to do with the feedback I got in my writing classes. But it’s probably also due to the importance I invested in selling those pieces. After all, I’d just shelled out hard-earned money for a writing class-I’ll be darned if I wasn’t going to see it pay off!

So even though your kids are chanting “No more pencils, no more books!” why not sign yourself up for a class or two this summer? Check out Writers on the Rise, Absolute Write, Mediabistro, or the continuing education offerings at a local college. Make it fun-pick something you’ve always wanted to learn about or sign up with a friend. Buy yourself some nice new notepads and pens. And, hey, if you take an online class, you won’t be cooped up in a classroom!

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Abigail Green is a freelance writer in Baltimore. Over the past 10 years, she has written for national, regional and online publications including AOL, AAA World, Bride’s, Baltimore Magazine, Cooking Light and Health. Her latest project is raising her first child, which she chronicles in her blog Diary of a New Mom http://diaryofanewmom.blogspot.com/.
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