Here's my secret about school visits: I get invited to schools to help inspire students to write... but guess what? I'm the one who ends up getting inspired!! That's what happened to me this morning when I worked with three of Mrs. Russell's classes at Lindsay Place High School in Pointe-Claire.
I worked with grade seven and eight students. Mrs. Russell's grade seven groups are doing a unit on prejudice, and some of the students have read (or will be reading) my historical novel, What World Is Left, which is based on my mum's experience in Theresienstadt, a Nazi concentration camp. With all three groups, I started by sharing some tips about writing, but then I moved on to talk about my mum and the research that went into writing What World Is Left.
I had a great time with all three groups. The first group was the smallest and included many students who love writing; the second group was larger, also focused and bright; and the third group (they were the grade eights) had so many great questions that Mrs. Russell worried she might get a detention if she let them stay any later than she did!
Today's pic was taken at the end of my last presentation. The blonde girl next to me is Angelica and I got the impression she is very angelic -- which makes me think I should include an angelic-looking girl named Angelica in my next book! (Only I might make MY Angelica a bit of a trouble-maker, which Mrs. Russell assured me the real-life Angelica is NOT!). On my other side is a student named Melissa. I loved her answer when I asked the students, "What do you think I did yesterday when I re-read the writing I had done in the morning and found it crappy?" Are you ready for Melissa's brilliant answer? She said, "You see where it went wonky and then you work backward to see where you can fix it up." Right on, Melissa! Plus, I loved how you used the word WONKY -- which definitely describes how writers often feel about their writing!
I told all three groups that one of the reasons I do school visits is because when I was in grades seven and eight, I never had a chance to meet a professional writer. So, during my visits, I try to tell students the things I wish someone had told me long ago -- such as that writing is hard, and that we are seldom satisfied with our work, and that our first drafts are total disasters!
So, many, many thanks to the students I worked with this morning. Like I said, you inspired me with your energy and questions (and interesting body language such as sharpening a pencil!!). Thanks too, to Mrs. Russell for doing such a great job with your classes, and to librarian Betty Dunning for arranging the visit.
This is Emma, the one in the red shirt on the left side of the picture, and I really enjoyed your writing and your presentation! Straight Punch (I tried to get that in italics, although I am not too sure whether it worked or not!) was in our 'Battle Of The Books' competition as one of the required books to read, and I thought it was an interesting story, and how the protagonist was a female who was strong. I tend to lean more towards books with strong female characters, and I like to write both genders as leads in my own stories.
Also, I admit I felt pretty proud about how I met the different bullet points you said are required to be a writer, or a good one at least. The funny thing is, I absolutely hate my own writing. I don't share it with people that I know personally, except for the two people who helped me along the way. (The three of us, since grade three, have been writing about these different stories with the same theme and characters for years, never stopping. Now that we're older, of course, the development and quality has improved, thank goodness. I cringe at my old writing.) I think it's because I feel ill be judged for what I write about, although I've started to use a larger variety of themes and ideas that are more day-to-day, but I shouldn't be embarrassed. And knowing that, I've become a little more open every time I'm asked about what I write about.
And, oh my god, me and my 'what if's. There are so many. I find the most frustrating thing is how I have hundreds of ideas, but they don't all fit in one book! And if I start too many, I'll be all over the place, and I've learned the hard way that starting too many projects doesn't always lead to a good outcome. I try to write everything down wherever I am, and I have a book that's mostly just scenes that I think about and have to write down.
I have so much to say, but I don't really know if I'm allowed to write too many paragraphs here, so I'll just end it this way-
Thanks you so much for visiting us this afternoon, I for one real,y appreciated the fact that you took the time to do this.
Also, I hope someone showed you the fire alarm! (On Tuesday, after school, someone pulled it and we got evacuated for nothing. It was freezing outside, though, which sucked for those of us who were in the middle of auditions for TOPS. I think it was a prank. Heh, maybe that would be an interesting scene, now that I think of it!)
Right, I'm off topic now.
I apologize for any typos!
Soooo glad you came t our school today and told us all your little tips because I want to be a writer someday BTW my name is Casey