monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

3 minutes reading time (602 words)

Back in Temiscaming!

Okay, I wasn't really IN Temiscaming today. Besides, if I had been, I would definitely have taken a picture for you. But I did do my second virtual writing workshop with Mrs. Webb's Grade Eight English class at G. Theberge School. Only Mrs. Webb is away at a teachers' conference, so I have to thank Mr. Rowell, who was substituting for her. Thanks for handling the tech end of things, Mr. Rowell, and for keeping an eye on the class! Alas, we got cut off during the last five minutes -- which was when I was planning to take a photo -- so I've got no photo to go with today's blog entry.

Today, we talked about the stories we need to tell. My goal is to help the students find theirs! I explained that for me, those stories have a lot to do with the Holocaust and my relationship with my mum, who kept her childhood experience in a Nazi concentration camp a secret for more than 60 years. Until I pried the secret out of her, and used it to inspire my YA novel What World Is Left. I also told the class about the story behind the story of The Brass Charm, my new picture book, which is also connected to my mum's time in Theresienstadt.

Last class, I had the students write an imaginary blurb for the book they most want to read. Today, I had them write about an old memory. I explained my theory that memories are stories asking to be told. What I had hoped to do in the last few minutes of today's workshop was ask each of the students individually whether they had an idea for a story -- I was hoping they might have been inspired by our exercises or by my suggestion that they interview an older person (preferably someone who loves them and who might therefor be willing to share a SECRET!).

I didn't get to speak to each of the 12 students, but I did get to speak to a few of them before we got cut off. Corbin has an idea for a medieval story. He told me he was also inspired by the memory exercise. So I suggested he try combining the two sources of inspiration. When I asked Hunter if he had an idea, he said, "Yes!" Just the one word, but I have to say it made me HAPPY. John shared his memory of being at a park when he was five years old: "I propelled myself down a slide at Mach 1 speed." (I just looked up Mach 1 speed and it's super fast -- as in 1234.8 km/hr.) My favourite part of that story was John's use of the word PROPELLED. I like your voacbulary, John, and look forward to reading whatever you write for next week!

I explained that not all writers like to talk about their WIP (that stands for WORK IN PROGRESS). Some writers are more private and prefer to keep their ideas under wraps until they are more fully develooped. I'm the kind of writer who gets energy from sharing my ideas.

I'll be back "in" Temiscaming next Friday. Mrs. Webbs's students, try to have something to show me. Ideally, we'll work on a shared screen and I'll give you some feedback on your writing. If there's any extra time left, you can count on me to tell you a story (or two) -- or give you another writing exercise (or two!!). Thanks to ELAN's ArtistsInspire for making my visits to G. Theberge School possible.





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Happiest Morning at Riverview Elementary School
Fun Virtual Visit to G. Theberge School


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Sunday, 03 December 2023

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