Hello blog readers!
I'm just back from a visit to Westwood Senior High School in Hudson, Quebec. When I say "the air was thick," I'm not describing the weather conditions -- I'm describing the story conditions. I honestly felt stories in the air from the moment I entered the building! (I actually entered twice since I had to move my car, which required me coming back into the school through a side door -- and you know what? I felt different stories in that part of the building!)
First, I met with the school's Book Club. These students meet once a month to hang out, discuss books, and chat with people like me. The Book Club is run by librarian Gwen Murray, who told me, "I love my job!" (Way to go, Mrs. Murray!)
A friend of mine, school counselor Karen Nesbitt, also sat in on my lunchtime visit. The students were receptive and focused. In today's first pic, you can meet one of them -- Amy. I got the feeling from her body language that writing means a lot to Amy. After my talk, the two of us chatted a little about how we can use difficult experiences and feelings to inform our work. I explained that though I have never written, in my fiction, directly about my own personal troubles, I have found ways to work that material -- especially the feelings -- into my books. I think that when we do this, we make our characters come more to life. It is, I suppose, a little like composing music as a way to express our thoughts and emotions.
After lunch, I worked with James Roy's enriched Grade 10 English class. I don't think I realized at first what a super group this was. That's because they were initially a little more chatty than I like. I decided that since I only had an hour and ten minutes with this group I'd be strict and insist on absolute attention (Monique Polak, police officer!!)... then I got into my talk... and before I was midway through, I suddenly realized how exceptionally bright and sensitive these young people were... and that there were several who clearly had an interest in creative work and telling stories. And then I realized that this was the last period on a Friday afternoon -- which made me admire them even more!!
There was just enough time for two short, slightly weird writing exercises. Oh, what a treat it is for a teacher and writer to be in a room with 35 young people, all WRITING AWAY!!!
A student named Gabrielle (wearing huge hoop earrings... I must remember to use that in a book) told me she could relate to my passion for writing. That's because she feels the same way about Latin and ballroom dancing.
And if you're wondering about today's second pic... that's Olivier wearing a pair of glasses he designed in his art class. Very cool, no? They give new meaning to the term "wire frames"!
So special thanks to Westwood for inviting me to visit, to Mr. Roy for getting things organized, to him and Mrs. Murray for sharing their most lovely talented students with me, to Mrs. Nesbitt for joining today's Book Club -- and to all the students I met. Oh, and to Alivia (did I spell that right?) and Charlotte for your chaperone services.
Take advantage of the thick air at your school. Find the stories -- then tell them! Big hug from Monique
Hi Karen, Thanks for posting that comment. I love the connection you draw between music and writing -- and that our first drafts are usually not "concert" worthy. How true! Keep up ALL the amazing good work you do -- and I look forward to meeting up with you again soon. best from Monique