It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and goodness, gracious do I need to give me some thanks for this ning. I mean wow! It’s changed my professional life.

Last Thanksgiving, I am not sure if I even knew what a ning was. This Thanksgiving, I am pretty resolved at this point to not even bother to write any more professional development books (even though a host of publishers are asking me to do so right now) simply because I am pretty much scratching every “write a book of professional development” itch I have at the moment through blogging and lurking and responding on the ning.

People think that’s crazy, too, that I might not write another PD book when there is so clearly an audience for a new title should I choose to write one. Book editors genuinely think I am bonkers.

But I LOVE the idea of freely giving away my stuff. After all, if I can help other teachers, I want to help other teachers and with all the furloughs, budget cuts, salary slashings and district layoffs – not to mention the limited classroom supplies – I feel that if I can help, I should help, no?

My literary agent doesn’t think I am so crazy though because he knows that if I don’t write PD books I will certainly continue to write books of fiction for YA’s (young adults). Part of this is because as a novelist, the whole idea of “free” hasn’t really taken off yet at all. Matter of fact, most of the novelists who give their books away free are people who are just trying to break into the field of professional fiction writing and if they do give their novels away free, it’s typically a ploy to get people to one day buy their books.

Free for them is like a marketing tool. A way of “breaking in”. (See the book FREE for more on this idea in the world of business.)

Well, people are already buying my YA books – lots of people – and as much as I may sound like some kind of commie, socialist, liberal based on what I wrote above about PD books, the fact is, I have a family to support and publishing books for young adults keeps the lights on in my house. And if I stop publishing YA books, well… let’s just say that my pay as a teacher might not even keep candles burning all too long, much less electrical lights… especially when you have kids and live in Southern California.

Look, we live in a capitalist society and I gotta sell some kinda something to keep my financial head above water so, as they say in the hip-hop community, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Besides, does anyone really begrudge having bought a book that they really enjoyed reading. A book that sucks, yes. But a book you truly enjoyed… I have yet to “overspend” in that area.

And so, back to the ning. Grateful for the insights. Grateful for the “time suck”. Grateful for the news friends, the incredible ideas, the growing sense of community and the expanded sense of camaraderie in my professional life.

Look, education can be tough on the soul. That’s true no matter who you are, where you work or what your position. But this ning gives me a sense of online community in a way that very much fits my lifestyle.

I am a better teacher, a bigger thinker and a more well-rounded writer as a result of my participation on this ning.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FOLKS!! Hope you enjoy the holiday!

NOTE: I will not be posting on Turkey Day – gotta take some “chill time” and re-charge at least a little bit before the big teaching surge I have on tap. (BTW – especially new teachers – you gotta really work it come Monday to bring value to the class time before X-Mas break. I mean those classroom minutes are so precious and before you know it the holiday break will be here and your kids will be playing video games, eating Doritos and doing their best to intellectually regress to the point of mental mush after all the triathlete-type brain work you’ve been doing since they came back to school in late August – so work their tails off now and know that there will be plenty of time for them to sleep in Come December 18th.)

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