Everything we do sets an example.
by Andy Scheer
My trip took me to two Midwestern writers conferences, plus a class at Taylor University. So I assumed I’d taught for nine hours, plus 36 one-on-one appointments.
But a comment during an appointment reminded me that as writers, our teaching is far broader.
A woman thanked me for something I’d taught her years ago at a conference in New Mexico. I didn’t remember her, so I asked what she’d learned.
The lesson hadn’t come in a class — or even pertained to writing.
The conference was directed by a Type-A individual who’d packed the schedule with sessions from breakfast until ten at night.
Knowing I needed time to unwind, I’d excused myself from not only the night owl workshops, but also an evening general session.
I found a comfy chair in the lobby of the residence hall and gave myself permission to sprawl — despite the risk of conferees seeing me and my faculty name tag.
One asked if I was okay. I told her my brain was full and I’d given myself permission to take the evening off. A decade later, she said that brief encounter proved one of her most valuable lessons from the conference — and that it had shaped her approach to ones she’d attended since.
And I thought I had finished teaching for the day.
As I spoke to students in the professional writing program at Taylor, I emphasized that everything they do affects their reputation. Do they meet their deadlines, fulfill their assignments, and consistently deliver quality work? Editors remember that.
In the writing field, we keep encountering the same people. My boss for some of my freelance editing today once served on my staff at previous workplace.
These days I appreciate what I’m learning from him, and I hope he can say the same. You never know what — or when — you’re teaching.
Andy Scheer, former editor-in-chief for the Christian Writers Guild, writes and edits from his office in Colorado Springs.