You may have guessed, dear blog reader, that the small woman mentioned in the title of today's blog entry is me! I'm just home after a whirlwind kind of day -- and yes, I was at THREE schools... though the last one was my own school (Marianopolis College here in Montreal) and since classes don't begin until next week, I was just there to drop off some photocopying.
So let me tell you about my other two school visits! At 8:45 A.M., I was working with Miss Adair's students at Perspectives I, an alternative high school near Boulevard Pie-IX. But because I'm headed back there again tomorrow, I'm going to wait till tomorrow to write a blog about that visit. All I'll say for now is that the students at Perspectives I are bright and the air in their school is THICK WITH STORIES! (My favourite kind of air!) If I make the magic I'm hoping to make, by tomorrow at lunch time, some of Miss Adair's students will have started the stories they need to tell and really want to read.
At 1 P.M., I was at Bialik High School, a parochial school in Cote St. Luc (the part of town where I grew up.) While I worked with small groups of students this morning (not more than nine or ten at a time), I talked to a whole gymnasium full of Grade 8's this afternoon. I had a little over an hour and I tried my best to pack in everything I know about writing. Because these students already know quite a lot about the Holocaust (in fact, they know more than many adults do about the subject), I was eager to tell them about my novel, What World Is Left, which is based on my mum's experience in a Nazi concentration camp.
I must say the gym got suddenly quiet when I started to talk about the Holocaust. I am always moved when young people care so much about this subject. Frankly, it gives me hope for the future.
There was some time for questions, but then I had a special treat. Librarian Marsha Lustigman (click here to check out Mrs. Lustigman's cool book blog) had invited a group of students, some of whom are members of the school's Junior Book Blasters club, to meet with me in the library (that's us in today's pic). So I moved out of presentation mode and into having-an-interesting-chat mode instead. The students had WONDERFUL questions -- and I was sorry when the school day came to an end.
Rebecca wanted to know what I recommend for writer's block. My answer: I recommend writing! (Even if all you write on your sheet is how much you hate writing and how totally frustrated you are!!) Aaron, who's the philosophical type, asked, "Why do you write?" I must say I had to think about that one. I told Aaron it's because I love stories, I live for stories, but now I've got another answer, too: it's because I CAN'T STOP WRITING. I'm hooked! Stav wanted to know whether I use an outline (the answer to that one is: sometimes yes and sometimes no, and I don't believe in sticking too rigidly to an outline... but if you don't outline at all, you can find yourself in a writer's tizzy, juggling too many balls at a time!!)
Well then, that was a pretty long blog entry, wasn't it? Time now to start making din-din. Thanks to all the people who helped organize today's visits. That includes Anne Beamish, the English consultant at the Montreal English School Board (Anne is attending my workshops at Perspectives I!!), Marsha Lustigman and Lanie Smajovits at Bialik (I mention Lanie because some of those students with the great questions are Lanie's). And a special thanks to all the young people I met today -- you made this one small woman feel lucky to be a writer!