See how interested and focused the students in my Writing for Children class at Marianopolis College look? That's because yesterday, they had a chance to meet author and illustrator Nahid Kazemi. We had read her lovely picture book, I'm Glad That You're Happy (Groundwood), in class last week.
Nahid, who was born in Iran, moved to Montreal four years ago. Though she had a successful career as an illustrator in Iran, she had to start all over again when she came here. "I started here from zero," she told the class. I think her message -- that it is possible to start from zero and work hard to achieve your dreams -- touched many students in the class. Two young women, both Persian, followed us out of the classroom so they could have a little more time with Nahid.
I thought I'd use today's blog to share some of the lessons Nahid taught us yesterday. "The first draft should be bad. The worst!" (Nahid actually said that in my office before class, when we were chatting with one of my former students, Olivia, a talented young writer who wanted to know how to get started on a book.) Nahid's advice was just to start, not to worry too much, and to accept that the first draft would be "bad, The worst!"
Here's more brilliant advice from Nahid: "A necessity for all of us is observation." (Hey guys, if you're in my class, does that sound familiar?!). "Another thing," Nahid added, "is discipline. We need it more than anything!" YES YES YES! Nahid explained that she is a morning person; she devotes every single weekday morning to her job.
Nahid also shared a short video presentation of her latest book, Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon (Enchanted Lion), written by JonArno Lawson. This picture book has very few words, but through the JonArno's poetic language and Nahid's images, it tells a powerful story about change and identity. Check it out!!
Nahid also told us, "We shouldn't be afraid of bad work. I try to watch the idea from different angles and ask, 'What if?'" (That "What if?" queston should also sound familiar to my students!)
So thanks to Nahid for the wonderful visit, for giving all of us lots to think about. And thanks to my students for being smart and sensitive and the perfect audience.