Heritage Regional High School in St-Hubert is one of those schools I have visited so often that I feel at home in the hallways and the cafeteria -- and especially the libarary. Over time, I have also become good friends with Mrs. Eva, the head of the school's English department and a devoted creative writing teacher.
Today, I did three writing workshops at Heritage -- and I thought I'd use this blog entry to share some of the high points. For me, the first high point was during Mrs. Eva's introduction, when she told the students: "You need to find your voice. You need to find what interests you." I could not agree more. Whenever I am thinking about a new book, I always asks myself a similar question -- what interests me most at this point in my life? The answer often leads to a new project!
In one of my workshops, I asked students to observe an object, but to make sure that the observation was connected somehow to an emotion. A student named Charles observed the clock on the library wall. The clock has a green Heritage school crest on its face. As Charles wrote, "it gives me the feeling of obligation." Nice obseration, Charles! Make sure you work that clock into your next story!
I talked a little about my mom today, too. I told the students how she has given me permission to talk about some of the difficulties she's had in her life, and how she once told me, "If you think it helps young people to tell them these things, go ahead and tell them." On his way out of the library, a young man named Tristan stopped and said, "Tell your mother I appreciate what she's done in her life." Will do, Tristan!
My last session was with Mrs.Eva's enriched English group. I tried to tell them the truth about writing -- that for me, it is often a difficult, frustrating process and that even after having published 17 YA novels, I still feel sometimes like I am groping in the dark when I write. So I was happy when, at the end of the day, a student named Sarah said, ""I liked that you were honest." A student named Lydia added, "When people hide you from reality, you end up getting hurt."
So, a big thanks to Mrs. Eva -- for your dedication to your students, and for being such a good host. And a big thank you to the students for being such excellent workshop participants. Now, remember what I told you: stay out of trouble, but if trouble strikes, use it in a story! And never ever stop reading and writing!
As an aspiring writer, it was really enjoyable to have someone there who understands how hard it is to be a writer when your thoughts are working against you, but also how absolutely rewarding it is to be proud of your final product. I'm not exactly a professional like you, but I have definitely been writing for quite a while. The quick writing exercise around the end helped a lot, actually. After about a few months of killer writer's block I was able to get a quarter of a chapter finished -- hopefully more coming tonight -- surrounding the imagery of the library books and how some are cluttered and scattered and some are put on spotlights. Kind of like people if you really think about it. Maybe even surrounding society's portrayal of beauty. The books in the back could be incredibly intriguing but most wont read it because it isn't showcased for the easy spotting.
Thank you - Monique - for the words of encouragement to all students. Your honesty resonates and your ability to speak with - not to - young people is appreciated.