You Know That I Don't Know and I Know It

I'll be speaking to a class at Johns Hopkins on Wednesday night as part of the MA program's guest speaker program. This is the second talk I've given at Hopkins, although this time it appears I'll be focusing more on craft, which makes me nervous. Even though I've taught a few classes at the Creative Alliance and elsewhere at the beginner level, I still feel like a poseur. I would feel like this even if I were giving writing lessons to eight-year-olds. I mean, who can honestly say, unless you're an established powerhouse like Saul Bellow or Joyce Carol Oates or Alice Munro, that you are an authority on writing?

I suppose this type of poseurship happens at all levels: there are rec-league football coaches and The Los Angeles Recording School alongside the NFL and the Peabody. A friend of ours, a very accomplished composer, told us it took him ten years to stop feeling like a poseur while teaching, so I know I'm not alone. But I do employ certain coping strategies in front of groups so I don't crack like an egg. For instance, I like to think of my teaching more as friendly advice on the things I've done to get published and, well, depending on the type of writer you are, it may not work for you. But I still can't shake the feeling, when I'm up in front of a class, that someone is looking at me and thinking "you don't know what you're talking about." Or at least checking their iPhone.

At least there's a hundred-dollar stipend. Not bad for an hour's work.