Monday, October 22, 2012

Staying in School

1929 School Photo Grade 3, Rotterdam, photo by Yvonne Thompson,
used with attribution, cc license
I doubt many of my readers attended a school like the one pictured above. Even in the 'dark ages' of my elementary school years, things were a bit more modern. Even so, this isn't the kind of school I'm talking about.

Yes, I was one of those kids who loved school. I remember, vividly, becoming hysterical when I realized that getting the chicken pox meant missing school for a whole week. I continued to go to school through high school, college, and then graduate school. That's a lot of years sitting in classrooms.

Now, I've been out of formal school for more years than I attended, which is a strange metric. But I have maintained my lifetime love of learning in less formal ways.

When I was actively practicing as a physical therapist, I always attended several courses and conferences a year, even when my license didn't require it. And I always sought out courses that would challenge me. I was talking about this just the other day--I'm happiest when I'm surrounded by people who are smarter than I am.

Not because I'm any sort of masochist, or like feeling dumb, but because being around people at the top of their game, puts me on my "A" game.

One of the best aspects to being a writer (aside from giving an outlet to the voices in one's head) is that a writer is constantly learning. And for this writer, the entirety of the internet, every library, and the wisdom of my fellow writers are my classrooms.

For my current WIP (Work in Progress), DERELICT (a SF story), I've had to research hydroponics, plant biology, communications technology, and music theory. The biggest danger is falling into the learning and the research rabbit hole and having a hard time returning to the actual writing!

And remember my love of being around really bright people? I've found that experts of all stripes really enjoy and are gracious about sharing their knowledge, especially when you confess you are a writer.

I think my favorite consult was with an organization of female falconers who were extremely helpful when one of my stories involved raptors. This was not long after the first Harry Potter movie had come out and they were frustrated by the use of owls in the stories. According to them, owls were 'dumber than a box of rocks.' The information they shared with me gave me enormous insight into and appreciation for falconry.

So, dear readers, what's the most interesting subject you've learned about recently?

This post is my contribution to my writing group's new weekly topic challenge. Susan Spann, author of the forthcoming ninja detective novel CLAWS OF THE CAT (Thomas Dunne, 2013), will propose a topic on her blog each Monday and we each of us will respond. Today, Susan challenged us to write about 'school' and talks about pranking her 9th grade English teacher. Feel free to join in, write your own thoughts about school, and add your link on Susan's blog.


  1. Falling into a research rabbit hole - yep that's me! But I'm with you - love surrounding myself with smarties!! That's why I'm always hangin' around you!!

  2. Soooo true! "being around people at the top of their game puts me on my A game." Right on. Most interesting subject I've learned about recently came from an email that my aunt sent me, chock FULL of trivia about words. For instance did you know that stewardesses is the longest word that can be typed with the left hand entirely? Lollipop is the longest word that can be typed with the right hand entirely.

    1. LOL. Those are the kind of trivia facts that will stick in my odd magpie brain forever. :)

  3. I have done the same thing. I spent two years researching head injuries and incubus/succubus. I realized I needed to actually WRITE and worry about details later. Well... sorta. :)

    I'm impressed you could afford all the workshops as a PT. As an LMT, I can't afford the workshops I want to take or afford to take a weekend off work.

    I'm a lifelong learner, too. Well met!