The truth is -- I miss teaching. It's a great privilege to be on sabbatical and to be writingfull-time this semester, but I do miss young people. And I miss having a class of my own.
But today, fellow YA author Lori Weber invited me to her "Writing for Children" class at John Abbott College -- and I got to be a teacher again, well kind of anyhow!
I told Lori's students about how I got my start as a children's writer and I also told them some of my writing tips, such as "get ideas in the shower"! Since they are working on writing the first chapter of a junior novel, we did a visualization exercise in which I tried to get them to remember an incident from when they were ten years old (I thought this might help them with their assignment). A funny thing happened during the exercise -- I was asking the students to use all five of their senses, and all of a sudden, I blanked out on the 4th and 5th senses! Luckily, I remembered them just in time, and I don't think the students even noticed!! (I could have told them and asked for their help, but it would have ruined the mood.)
We also talked about my favourite subject: body language. I told the students that writers need to be observant, and body language is a fun thing to observe. Later in the afternoon, I worked with another group of creative writing students in Lesley Checkland-Orr's class. I caught one of the guys inspecting his fingernails. This is an example of body language I had never seen before -- not in a classroom anyhow! I noticed that the same guy had cool hair, shaved close to his head. At the end of class, he let me have a better look. Now I'm thinking I may give the male main character in my new manuscript the same hairstyle.
So thanks to the Writers in the Cegeps program for supporting my visit, thanks to Lori and Lesley for sharing their students with me, and thanks especially to the students for being so open and energetic. Stay in touch and let me know how your writing goes.
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Hey Monique, you were extremely energetic and interesting to have as a speaker. Your thoughts on body language were so accurate, you really can tell so much about people by the way their holding themselves or how their fidgeting. You had so much to say and its clear you love what you do. Thanks for coming. Come back!
Thanks so much for coming, Monique. It was great to see you again; you look just the same as you did all these years ago when we belonged to the despised corps that taught Composition.
I thoroughly enjoyed your talk, and I know most of the students did too. Actually you inspired me to start writing again -- in my (ahem) "spare" time... On the drive home to Alexandria, thinking about what you had said, I finally saw how I could use some material that "just won't go away" and concerns my kids as teenagers. I'd never thought of trying Y.A., but now I will.
All the best,
Good afternoon Mrs. Polak!
I would also simply like to take the time to thank you for your wonderful visit on Tuesday. Your advice was very appreciated as well as inspiring. I wish we had had more time with you!
Once again thank you for coming!
P.S: I don't know about the others, but at least I did not not notice you blanking out on the 4th and 5th senses during the visualization exercise !