Gog, Magog, and pedagogue.

sharedworlds2

Photo: Wofford College…AND SATURN

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Jeff VanderMeer asked me to be a guest writer at the Shared Worlds workshop in July and I said yes. It’s a huge honor. It’ll also come as a surprise to those who know me as being vehemently anti-teaching.

Which is not actually the case. I just hate a system wherein the only way artists can eat and clothe themselves is to teach. Teaching is a completely different skill set from making art, and—unless it’s as much of a vocation as the art itself, or has direct benefit to the artist, like finding new actors for a theatre production—a profound drain of energy. It’s like looting stone from a temple to build walls. And historically, when it comes to protecting that temple, I am not unlike a beast of Revelation.

But teaching is in my blood. My Mom taught history at Pallotti High School in Belize. My Dad taught religion at Lebanon Valley College. My sister Julie teaches religion at Hofstra. My brother Donald teaches ESL at Jordan Matthews High School. My sister Clare teaches dance at the University of Vermont. They are all brilliant people and brilliant artists. So are all of the artists who’ve taught me, over the years—like Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, and Nalo Hopkinson.

So I told myself I’d be interested in certain cases: if it looked like fun. If it were a short-term gig. If I could teach teenagers, who haven’t yet been spoiled by what canonmakers tell them they’re supposed to think is good, and just love what they love.

And this is all three. Plus, Kelly Link is also teaching. Jesus.

So hey, do you have a teenager who likes to tell stories? Send them thisaway! I can’t wait to meet them.

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