Hello hello, blog readers! I'm just home from a busy (and fun) day at St. Thomas High School in Pointe-Claire. This is my I-don't-even-know-how-many-th year doing a series of writing workshops at St. Thomas. To be honest, I was kind of thinking they might be sick of me by now -- but nope, I got invited back. Lucky me! But because I've already met some of the students I'll be working with this year I promised I'd focus more than usual on writing exercises. So today, I tested out a brand-new exercise. It's inspired by my upcoming chapter book, Princess Angelica: Camp Catastrophe. That book is based on something mischievous I did when I was ten -- I told the girls in my bunk at camp that I was a PRINCESS and THEY BELIEVED ME. So today, I asked the students to think back to when they were that age -- and to write about the imaginary person they would have liked to pretend to be.
I jotted down some of my favourite answers.
Katrina, who is one of Ms. Broniszewski's grade eight students, wrote: "My name is Matilda. I am a ten-year-old girl, and I have mind powers. I can move anything I want with my mind. I love reading, and have read every book in the library." Katrina, I think your answer is not only well-written (plus I like how you used a comma after girl and before and), but it also shows a lot of creativity!
I had Mr. Katz's grade nine class after lunch -- and though they were a little distracted at first, they turned out to be a bright, lively group. This is what Kirsten wrote about her imaginary self: "My name is Kirsten and I'm a troublemaker. I get into trouble, but I don't care." I like the energetic, willful tone of those sentences. The real Kirsten assured me that she is NOT a troublemaker at school (though occasionally one at home!). Kirsten's classmate, Jonathan, also came up with a fascinating alter-ego: "My name is Jones Florent. At the age of fourteen, I incited a revolt in school." Well, Jonathan, I'd definitely want to keep reading your story. I also love the word INCITE. Nice vocabulary, Sir!
Because I'll be seeing some of the classes twice (I'm doing four days of workshops in all at St. Thomas), I had time for more warm-up exercises with some of the groups. When I was working with Mr. Rowland's grade nine class, we came up with a list of our favourite words that begin with the letter G. I think my favourite of the favourites was Alyssa's word: gobsmacked. That's quite the word, Alyssa. I also like guacamole -- both the word and the snack!!I
I tried to share as many of my writing tips as possible --how observation is important, that writers need to do research in order to write books, that it's normal to hate our first drafts.
I finished the day with another one of Ms. Broniszewski's grade eight classes. I had that class write about a childhood memory. I told them that memory is an important tool in a writer's toolbox. A student named Noah wrote about visiting a loved one in hospital: "The awful smell of medication fills my nostrils." Effective use of the sense of smell there, Noah!
I don't usually quote myself when I write my blog, but you know what? I told the last group a line that I quite liked. So I'm going to tell it to you, too. Here it comes: "I think a memory is a story that's asking to be told."
What do you think? Does it feel true to you too?
Okay, I'm off to READ ON THE COUCH. AHHHH, that's another part of my work (and pleasure) as a writer. I'll be back tomorrow and Wednesday at St. Thomas. And I'll be blogging about it.
Thanks to the kids for being wonderful, to Mrs. Pye for the invite, to Suzanne for welcoming me to the library today, and to the teachers for sharing your students with me!