James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

A (Presumptive) Return to Teaching

After nearly a decade of writing, learning, writing some more, trying and failing and finally failing better — i. e., getting published in my modest but gratifying ways — in 2009 I came up with the idea of leading others on the path of the kind of discipline and thinking I’d cultivated in order to get as far as I had. On another level, I’d also heard in any number of workshops that the only way to make it these days as a writer of fiction was to also teach, and so I says, I says to myself, self, you should get your feet wet teaching others what you’ve learned, and see if there’s a revenue stream there to be exploited.

On a fellow writer-teacher’s further guidance (and with his kind recommendation serving as wind beneath my wings), I put together a writing resume and a syllabus for a course I persuaded the good folks in the Midlands Technical College Continuing Ed program to offer: ‘Fiction Workshop: Elements of the Narrative’ was my moniker for what became in the MTC Catalog ‘Fiction Writing I’. In essence a six-week series of three hour workshops exploring the elements that make up the vivid and striking narratives we call fiction (as the original course title made explicit), through two academic years I enjoyed leading groups of students at all skill levels, from beginners to some who’d already been published and only wanted to brush up on the big ideas and broad strokes.

As much as I enjoyed teaching, however, in the spring of 2012 I took a break — it was time for me to put all my energy into creating, revising, and submitting my own writing. When the course offering returned last fall, however, the sour economy caught up with Continuing Ed signups across the board, with mine failing to hit the minimum necessary to make the class viable. Boo-hoo. But hey, maybe the timing was fortuitous, since it allowed me to throw myself into this project instead.

But fear not! We’re back for the Winter 2013 term of Fiction Writing I, the listing for which may be viewed here, along with two other similar offerings taught by Sandra Johnson out at the Northeast campus. Aspiring writers looking for a nurturing and fun environment to try out ideas or acquire discipline or simply think about their ambitions and work in a new light should consider signing on. Our discussions occur in a relaxed environment that’s a mix of lectures and pontificating mixed with student interaction in what I like to think of as the theatre of ideas, not merely an anonymous classroom in a building full of them.

The only change from the prior offerings of this course is one of venue: from class’s origins on the Harbison campus off Lake Murray Boulevard we move downtown to the main MTC campus, which allows me to better manage my other job responsibilities without having to battle the horrendous traffic going that direction at rush hour. Begins January 15 and continues on the next five Tuesdays, 6-9pm. Consider signing up!

About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

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