In 1997, my husband, son, and I moved with all our belongings, and Peppercorn our bad-tempered old cat, to New Mexico. That was when I started offering classes on writing for children through writers.com, first using listservs and then over time through Nicenet's Internet Classroom Assistant. Mark Dahlby, who runs writers.com with patience, calm and incredible goodwill, allowed me to try out an introductory class, an advanced workshop, a class on writing picture book text. In effect, he said, I trust you. Do what you think will work. A terrifying thought.
Twelve years later, I can say in honesty that every little scrap that I know about teaching writing, I learned in that virtual classroom from my students.
Since last year, I've been working on a transition plan. I'm stepping away from that online teaching, only because I don't have enough hours in the day to teach at Vermont College, visit schools, and--oh yes I do need to keep writing. I'm leaving my online classes in the capable hands of two fine writers and VC graduates. We set up an internship process where they'd hang out in my class for a session or two, figure out how I do things, decide what will work for them, and find their own balance.
I'm thrilled to announce that Debby Edwardson has just completed the first 8-week session of First Steps for beginning writers who want to write for young readers. Sarah Aronson and I are just concluding a 10-week session of the Manuscript Workshop, filled with amazing work in progress ranging from picture books to novels, rich with conversation about craft, and replete with discovery about how stories come to be. And yes, Sarah is the human alarm clock in this post from Through the Tollbooth. In these classes, we have opened doors, arrived at insights, and celebrated successes including agent signings, contracts, publication, and more. Thank you to everyone who made this journey possible for me. It's my delight to pass the love on.