If you're an author who does a lot of school visits, and who blogs about it, you face a challenge that not too many people know about: coming up with interesting pics to go along with your blog posts. Usually, it's just a pic of yours truly with some budding writers. But today, during my second visit to Westwood Senior High School, I did better: I got you a pic of a double-jointed student named Marcus. I caught Marcus doing this impressive arm move during my talk, and because I am always thinking about you, dear blog reader, I whipped out my phone and got a pic!
Today, I worked with three grade nine groups. Many of the students had met me before when I spoke at Forest Hill, their elementary school. So, to shake things up, I talked less about writing tips, and more about what I've been up to lately as a writer. I told them about Bullies Rule, a manuscript I just sold to Orca, and which I am currently revising. All that's left on this rewrite is to fix the last chapter. That'll be tomorrow's big task. I told the students how I heard an interview with a neuro-scientist who explained that our brains are hardwired to solve problems. So instead of feeling distressed about fixing my last chapter, I am simply gong to tell my brain to have fun and get to work!
When we talked about re-writes, I asked students in Miss Havard's class if they ever handed in a first draft. Cassandra admitted that she had. Later, during the writing exercise I gave her class, Cassandra wrote a lovely paragraph about coming across an old photo from when she was ten years old. Hey, Cassandra, if you REVISE and RE-WRITE that piece, it's going to be AMAZING!
A student named Chelsea wrote a line I really liked -- and I asked her permission to quote it here: "Back to when we were happy." Don't you think that would make a beautiful book title? Hey Chelsea, write the book to go with it!
I sent Miss Phillips's class on a mini-expedition: to walk around the library and observe the other students working there. That turned out to be a fun exercise. (And I have to admit I made it up on the spot.) Being observant is an important part of a writer's job.
One of Miss Phillips's students, McKenna, showed me what she wrote later in our workshop -- a paragraph about how, when she was in Grade Three, a friend got angry when McKenna gave her a hug. "Now I hardly hug anymore," McKenna wrote. I found that line beautiful for its simple honesty.
But the highlight of today's visit -- besides meeting double-jointed Marcus -- was a little I had with a student named Olivia. "Now that I met you," Olivia told me, "I'm going to come back to the library and get a book at lunch."
Great to be with you guys today! Thanks to Miss Havard and Miss Phillips, and to librarian Mrs. Austen for the invite, and for making me tea!! Here's to reading and writing -- and stories of all kinds.