Hey, blog readers! Today, I am writing to you from the library at Beurling Academy in Verdun. I'll be here the next three days doing workshops with the school's Grades 10 and 11 students. So far, if I may say so myself, things are going super well! That may be because some of the students here already know quite a bit about the Holocaust, the subject of my book What World Is Left. They have been studying the Holocaust in their Ethics classes. Last week, Ethics teacher Miss Debi took some of her students to the Montreal Holocaust Centre where they actually had the opportunity to meet and interview survivors.
I was telling my first group this morning how important details are to story telling. Details bring a story alive, but too many details can bog a story down and make your reader lose interest. So it's a question of finding the right balance. By way of example, I pointed out a few details I had observed by looking at my audience. A student named Bradley was the only one in the group who had his back to me. When I got him to turn around, Bradley admitted something interesting: that he dislikes making eye contact. This led us to a little discussion about eye contact and its importance (I told Bradley he is more likely to be stopped at the border if he doesn't make eye contact with the border patrol officer!). Anyway, Bradley happens to have very kind eyes, and when he did look at me, it was great! I also observed a student named Tamara (that is Tamara in today's pic, wearing a white shirt) who was scratching her paper with her pen. In all my years of working with students, I had never noticed this sort of scratching before -- and so I immediately wrote it down in my notes. As I told the students, I am always looking for young people to "people" my stories. So, who knows? Maybe Bradley and Tamara will turn up (names changed, of course!) in an upcoming book!
At recess, Tamara re-appeared and she told me a little about her visit to the Montreal Holocaust Centre last week. Tamara had mixed feelings about interviewing a survivor. She wanted to know more, but felt a little bad about her curiosity.... guilty, I guess. I told Tamara that her response shows remarkable sophistication and sensitivity. Perhaps here, too, as in including details in a story, the trick is to find the right balance. Curiosity is vital, but we also want to tread gently when we ask difficult questions. So special thanks to the students I've met so far for being so open with me. Thanks to Miss Debi, and to librarian Helene Bourguignon (she is also in today's pic) for arranging this week's visit. Oh, and I nearly forgot to tell you two fun coincidences. A student here named Netta had already heard me before -- a couple of years ago when I visited her school in New Carlisle in the Gaspe! (Hope I didn't say too many of the same things, Netta!) And a Beurling math teacher named Mr. Swiderski popped by to say hi, too. He was my student at Marianopolis in 1995!! (I love coincidences.) ... Have a great day wherever you are!
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When we met yesterday, I grew extremely fond of you very quickly. I find you incredibly interesting, and the writing that you've done to be very impressive.
Thank you very much for taking the time to visit us at school, and for reading my journal. Very much appreciated. Take care.
Peace out home skillet?! You'll have to explain that one to me, tomorrow!
Thanks for your comment, Tamara, and for sharing your work with me. As I told you at school today, I think you have what it takes to write your OWN book. Hope I'll get to read it one day!!
Peace out home skillet!
hey monique thank you so much for coming to our school. we really enjoyed having you. and you helped me alote with reading and writing im becoming a bigger fan of reading now that i started reading your book ( what world is left) i not far along but it already seems very interesting ... anyways thanks again and in your new book can you please use my name thanks
hello monique thank you very much for coming out to our school and telling us your stories behind your book. also i am very suprised on how you can stand up in front of everyone and tell people about it. it was a real pleasure these last few days being in the library with you. I learned a lot in the past three days about how i can find stories everywhere i am and doing things i love to do ex: sleeping, running, or in the shower, etc....
further more i am very excitedd to see what comes to mind when i do these tricks. The only one i can't do is the sleeping one because when i try to fall asleep, i just pass out cold.
thank u so much for coming. Jason
Wassup Monique, thank you for coming to our school and teaching us about writing and little tips on body language. I really learned a lot from you. I hope to you soon and read more of your books. I hope that Louis guy "blurbs" your book in a good way. I just started reading "What world is left" and I am already starting to like it. Anyways, peace out Polak!
Hey Monique, thank you for coming to our school. You taught us a lot of things. I learned a lot of things during the 3 days you were here. I wish you the best with your writing. I had a pleasure listening to you. I will be reading more of your books.
Thanks for coming to Beurling, it was nice for you to help us out on our writing skills and for telling us about your book on your mother's experience. It was really interesting. I've read part of the book already, and I'm already enjoying it. Also, thank you for helping me out with my short story, it helped a lot. I like constructive criticism, and it was awesome to have it coming from someone who's written many books. It was a pleasure listening to you, and you have a wonderful personality. Thanks again!
On behave of Beurling , i thank you for coming and talking to us about , your moms past, and everything that you talked to us about , in these three day;s i've learned alot. I hope you come back soon and talk to us , i'll try an work on the eye contact.One thing that i won't forget is the "body language" it could help me in the futur knowing if my boss is actually paying attention, or if i know a girl is coming home with me anyways i hope you have a safe trip , and have a lot of success in your new book coming out .
sincerly Your favvv studeent brraddd
Thanks for sharing your story about what your mom when she went through the holocaust when she was our age. Anyways it was a great three days and i have learned a lot thanks.
Hey Monique, i had at the workshop, listening to what you have to say really helped me with my writtening. Me and the boys are stuck in the computer lab forced to write a comment on your blog. I was looking forword on reading your book (What World is Left) but unforchantly we can't because Miss Bebiiii is going away to AFRICA, although i could always read one of the other ones. Therefore i wish you the best of luck on your next book and if you know Yedel and Yafet tell them i said whats up anywhos.
Thank you Monique for coming to Beurling Academy and sharing your knowledge. I have a whole new prospecte on the way books are written and how you get idea's for books. I might even end up writing a book when I am older. Hopefully we could meet again in the futur
I think that the past three days we're so much fun! Listening to your stories and learning how to recognize different types of body language. I'm also about to read "On the game" it looks so interesting! Anyways we really appreciate you coming, and hopefully we'll get to see you again..this time with your mom. Thanks again byee
Hey Monique, it was a pleasure listening to your having you came and speak with my classmates and I. Right now she's making us write this even though we don't want to,we all know MISS DEBI is a little pushy. However, were still having a good time showing that we appreciate all the things you came and taled about with us. Also I hope that famous guy BLURBS your book. Abyways.
whole it down, Jersey
Thank you for everything youre workshop was great.My favorite part had to be the part were we got homework that required us to go to sleep.If you come out with any new books email me the names;D.It is nice to know that someone who is famous and has written books would take there time to come to our school and teach us writtign tips.So the last thing i will say is thanks for all youre time.
Thanks for coming to our school and talking about your book,''What World Is Left'' and the history behind it. Thanks for giving writing tips for us too. You grabbed my attention by moving around alot I think it really worked.
sryy bout tht miss DEBI didnt mean to miss spell ur name and also at the begining i meant to say i had a lot of fun at the workshop
i'm being forced to write this comment by Miss Dixon. i really don't have much to say except thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come and talk to us. i hope to see you again, i really enjoyed the workshop.
ps: im not sure you even know who i am, but just in case i really don't want to be in any book at all!!!!!
Wow, that's a lot of comments from you guys! I like that your assignment was to post a comment on my website. It gave you practice posting online -- and it made me happy!! This week is much quieter without you guys! Hope you're listening to great stories and beginning to tell them, too. Good luck with your reading and writing -- and keep in touch to let me know how you're all doing! best from Monique