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Tasting the core

Teaching. Why do we do it?

A marketer or mentor might be tempted to say: 'It's not core business' - and they'd be right. But I love it. And surely that's reason enough?

Last month's 'Speed Date an Author' was fast, funny and productive. Dialogue was my topic for the half hour slots in the NZ Book Council's 'maximum impact' event. Wish I'd had this kind of opportunity when I was at school. But half an hour is a mere taster.

Coming up, in addition to an 'Off the Page writers series' event with Massey University in Palmerston North and hands-on workshop for aspiring fantasy writers at ComiCon Au Contraire in Wellington, later this term I have four precious days of teaching creative writing to fifty top students from seven schools in the Wairarapa. Each group is different. Each year is different. But the satisfaction I get from seeing kids grasp something, make a leap forward, grow their skills and confidence and knowledge - that's my answer to that marketing expert.

Teaching writing doesn't come naturally to all writers. Absolutely doesn't. Teaching doesn't come naturally to all teachers. Some writers wisely stay well away from it.

But if you are good at it, and you enjoy it, and your students enjoy it ... okay, I admit: I'm trying to convince the marketer. Maybe I'm trying to convince myself. Time away from the current novel is always time lost, focus lost, the threads frayed and dangling. But it's also good, yes? Fresh air, fresh insights, fresh... faces, looking eagerly on.

Writing is both teachable and innate. Without doubt the best way to learn it is by doing it, but getting a steer in the right direction at a critical time, someone to nudge you around a pitfall, shine a light on something that later might look obvious - that's worth a lot of time saved in figuring out your own lonely path.

That said, the next book is always what the job is really about.

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