It’s never too late to learn something new — that’s the motto of many of us here at Hammock. And it’s especially true for those of us who have gone back to class recently to learn a new skill or master a concept that has piqued our curiosity. Here’s just a sample of the continued learning Hammockites are engaged in right now:

If you spot Hammock’s editorial director Jamie Roberts and digital media manager Megan Morris with a camera around town, watch out — you could become part of their next photo shoot. The two signed up for a beginning photography course at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film this fall, and on the weekends, you can find them snapping photos to hand in for class critiques. “I’ve long wanted to know how to capture people, events and moments with more finesse and beauty,” Jamie says. “The lectures and assignments — and a very good teacher — break down the fundamentals so I can get closer to that goal.” For Megan, the class has been a good primer on everything from how to shoot using manual controls to taking advantage of natural light. “Ever since I started shooting with a digital camera, I’ve relied on program modes because I was afraid it would take too long to set up a manual shot,” Megan says. But now she’s “loving how much more control I have over how the image comes out,” she says, “and I’m also learning to rely much less on post-processing in Photoshop.” Though photography doesn’t directly relate to the work she does at Hammock, having a creative outlet outside the office “clears out any cobwebs that might be trying to settle in my brain and lets me focus better on what I’m trying to accomplish here,” she says.
By day, Summer Huggins is Hammock’s social media wizard and grammar guru. By night, she’s hitting the driving range and preparing to take over the LPGA. “Picking up golf again was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of thing, but I have thoroughly enjoyed every second,” says Summer, who signed up for a beginning golf course through an informal class at the University of Texas in July. A shoulder injury from a bad backswing sidelined her for a while, but she recently dusted off her clubs again and is back on the green. “I hope to gain the confidence to actually hit a golf course soon instead of just the driving range,” she says. “The last day of class, we’ll all do that together at a small par-3 course here in town, but I’m excited about making a full day out of it with friends!” Not only is golf an excellent stress reliever, Summer says, but with so many different kinds of people in her class — doctors, lawyers, teachers, salespeople, etc. — it’s also a sport that “levels the playing field” in many areas of life. “If a client ever calls and wants to ‘talk it out on the golf course,’ my clubs will be ready to go!”
As for me, six weeks ago, I signed up for a screenwriting class at Borders Bookstore on a whim. I had gotten into a creative rut — hardly writing at all outside of work — so I thought this class would be just the impetus to push me out. Writing a 106-page script (the length of most screenplays) sounded daunting, but I’ve always been curious about the genre and wanted to see if my skills would transfer over to the big screen. I used to get ideas all the time that I thought would make great movie scenes, but until now, I’ve never actually written them down. With two weeks left in the course, I’ve learned how to write everything from loglines and character bios to scene sequences and the first, second and third acts. Finding time to do homework has been challenging, but I’ve discovered how to pace myself, and I’m currently working on my first 10 pages (the part of a screenplay that gets it bought or tossed by a studio, according to my teacher, screenwriting veteran Dyann Rivkin). Though screenwriting has its own rules and conventions, it’s mostly about telling a good story and writing visually through action and dialogue. The best part for me has been getting to know other writers in class — most of us are new at this, so the feedback we give each other during critiques is invaluable. I joined the class hoping it would teach me to be more concise and help me rein in my long-winded writing. But after reading my opening scene in class and getting good reviews, I’m seriously thinking about trying to sell my script!