Friday, March 27, 2009

Online Courses and Blogging 101

Most of you know how much I love to go to school, whether it be attending and learning or teaching and learning. In the past year, I've discovered online courses, and I thoroughly enjoy them. First, I took "Essentials of Copyediting," in which I discovered that editing (my soon-to-be new profession) is not much like grading papers. Then I enrolled in "Fundamentals of Technical Writing." Wow! What an eye-opener that was! I learned lots and felt really stupid from time to time. Now I'm taking "Grammar Refresher," the third online course through the ed2go program at UNM. This one, so far, is not very interesting. The teacher of the copyediting course warned me that it would be a "baby" course, but did I listen? No. So here I am learning what subjects and predicates are. Not very stimulating yet, but maybe it'll get better.

Sometime last fall, I looked at a list of courses offered by EFA (Editorial Freelancer's Association), of which I am a member. I found my dream-come-true course: Blogging 101. You know that I love blogging, but I know that I'm not very much dedicated and go for months without writing anything. That's about to change because I have to commit to writing a certain number of posts each week for the next four weeks. I'm hoping that I'll get addicted to writing on/in (which is it?) my blog, just what I planned for myself when I began blogging in 2007. Guess I just need someone to crack the whip! We have a great teacher, and I love her already! Teachers are almost always my favorite people, but she just seems special, so personal.

I'm so excited because one of my classmates wrote to me, after I posted an introduction, that I should write a memoir, which is exactly what I've been planning to write for years. Just recently, I've become more excited about memoir writing because of editing Joyce Adrian's memoir and because of reading RoseAnne Coleman's memoir, The Stories I Keep. (Joyce is our cousin in Maine, and RoseAnne is a longtime friend from Pensacola.)

Anyway . . . I'll close with my "Introduction to Sandy Young" that I posted for our class:

Hi,classmates! Do you remember how exciting the first day of school was when you were a child, even a teenager? If you were ever a teacher, you remember that same feeling. The euphoria usually fizzled by second period, but you had that heart-thumping feeling for a while anyway. That first-day-of-school excitement is just what I'm experiencing right now. And to think that my classmates are all of you . . . you who come to this class with loads of experience in writing, editing, working in the corporate world, living with technology all around you. I'll be able to absorb some of your knowledge, and I'm honored to be able to learn from you and with you as Rebecca (already I know that she's a great teacher!) leads us through Blogging 101. Sorry . . . I just had to tell you this before introducing myself. My background is quite different from yours.

I graduated from college with both a B.A. and an M.A. in English, all set to go out into the wide world to teach high school English. And that's just what I did for 32 years, most of those years in Pensacola, FL. Yes, I was in the classroom with 35 - 40 teenagers, mainly seniors, every hour of the school day. And I loved it. However, when I was in my mid-fifties, I decided to see if I could do something else before being put out to pasture. I became a sales rep for a publishing company for seven years, retiring in 2003, never to lug another book or talk my way past a secretary again. My husband and I moved to Cerrillos, NM, to be near our daughter and her family. I stayed retired for 79 days before going back to work for the same publisher, doing essentially the same job--driving about 1000 miles a week, lugging books from my van to the schools, getting to know secretaries in hopes that they'd let me see teachers even if I had arrived when they were in class, presenting my books to teachers trying to convince them that they should adopt and purchase them, feeling tired but very much satisfied at the end of the day because I am still in the education business and helping students by selling excellent textbooks for them to use. I just don't have to discipline teenagers or grade their papers. Now I'm ready to really retire and get serious about working with my friend Grace in her editing business. Just a minute . . . I thought I didn't want to grade papers. Guess it's that full circle thing! Seriously, though, editing isn't very much like grading papers. It's much more intense. Never thought I'd say that anything was more intense than grading papers, but what did I know?

I'm a relatively new member of EFA, having joined sometime last fall. Grace, my editing partner, encouraged me to join so that I, too, could see the job listings that she was receiving. We've applied for some of them but haven't had much success with landing anything. I discovered, however, the classes offered by EFA and was immediately interested in some of them, especially Blogging 101. I'm very much interested in blogging, but I realize that I don't know much about it. I also saw that blogs can be a way to round up customers for our editing business. Ever since I heard of blogs, probably in 2005 or so, I've wanted to be a blogger. And I already am one, just not a very good one. So . . . I'm here with an open mind and heart, eager to be a good blogger!

Yes, I have a blog, and I love writing on it. My problem is that I'm not very well disciplined and tend to write only on important days. A friend walked me through the steps of setting up my blog on Blogger sometime in the fall of 2006. I finally got up the nerve to open it up and write a little silly piece in the summer of 2007, just to see if I could do it. As you can see, I'm not very brave when it comes to technology. Then, on the morning of July 2, 2007, I awakened in a blue funk, feeling myself go down in that grief pit that I didn't want to enter. That day was the 15th anniversary of our son's death, and I usually spent Jay's "death day" just missing him. Instead of doing that, though, I got myself together, headed for the computer, and wrote to my heart's content about my boy, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, but feeling ever so much better when I finished. I then sent emails to lots of his friends,asking them to read what I had written. Many of them did, and then they wrote to me, telling me how much they still missed him and what a fantastic character he was. Blogging and emails made my day! I've even had a magazine to pick up a piece that I wrote about Jay and publish it in their December 2008 issue. So . . . because of my blog, I'm a published author. To an old retired English teacher, being published is icing on the cake of retirement.

I apologize for the length of Introducing Sandy Young. I always have a difficult time getting started with writing and an even harder time stopping.


I'll try to make my posts during the class shorter. I know you don't have all day to laze around in my blog.