The last time I took a class that wasn’t exercise or sports-related was so long ago that I am not even sure of the date. It had to be around the time I was in college or shortly thereafter. But I do know that when I was finished I probably ran for the door because, being no fan of school, I couldn’t wait to be done.
I say this with trepidation because of young readers like my daughter who I want to like school. Most people do like school. But the truth is important. For me, it didn’t work.
As a girl, I loved playing school and, as teachers, my friend Ann Quigley and I would conduct countless classes in her basement. We had dueling blackboards propped on either side of a clothes line that her father had stretched from one end of the space to the other. There were endless boxes of chalk, and ideas into infinity.
It was the best set-up ever.
And if we ever came up short on lesson plans, we’d go upstairs and have some of her mother’s famous hot chocolate with fluff for inspiration. Then back down to our students, usually a couple of stuffed animals propped in seats.
In that context, school was fun. But whatever I have done professionally to this point in paid journalism (yes, I said paid) has been self-taught, or thanks to the persistence of my 5th grade English teacher at St. John’s School in Canton.
There I learned the dreaded sentence diagram, which actually horrified most kids in the class but me, who loved it. Finally, something that made sense. Soon parts of speech became my friends. Maybe it’s odd to base an entire career on a class I took at age 10. But that’s when I knew I could be a writer, and decided I would be one.
Last night I finished my first class in more than 25 years. It’s called Novel-in-Progress, which is very foreign to someone who has made a career chronicling true life. But I loved it so much that I’m taking the next section. After that? I might take it again.
I pledged as the New Year dawned that this was the year to try something new. And so far, I’m right on track, and as hungry for the knowledge as my students in Ann Quigley’s basement. Although this time, I’m open to the possibilities, and definitely the one who is benefiting from all the enthusiasm.