It's been a while since I've been in a classroom -- and now I realize how much I've missed it!
I had the pleasure of spending most of my day with students at Mother Teresa Middle School in Laval, Quebec. First, I worked with teacher Monic Farrell's Music class. I must say they were a lively bunch (you'll see some of them in today's pic) and they helped get me energized for the rest of the day. Only two of the students said they had an interest in becoming writers, but hopefully, I convinced a few others in the group to consider the writing life. A student named Manny wanted to know how I handle writer's block. I told him that mercifully, it doesn't happen to me very much, but if I do feel blocked, I JUST KEEP WRITING. Even if it is only to say, "gee this is tough. I'm getting discouraged." In other words, I'd write through the block. We talked a little about determination and a student named Dylan gave me a look that told me he knows all about determination. Later, Dylan told me his dream is to become a chef. I told him that'd make great stories -- so maybe he can be a chef who writes on the side.
I spent the rest of the day with Miss Farrell's accelerated learners. I don't think I've ever worked with such a keen group of young writers. Several came in at lunch to share their work with me and to get some feedback. Angel is working on a werewolf story; Alexis is more interested in the place where fiction and non-fiction meet. I told both of them their work looks promising, full of energy and fun, but that they both need to really get to know their main characters. In case you're reading this entry, Angel and Alexis, a good exercise to learn more about your main character is to write down 50 questions (whatever comes to mind -- favourite food, religion, kind of house he or she lives in...) and then work out the answers. We writers need to know all we can about our characters.
Miss Farrell is doing some super work with her students. They are keeping writers' notebooks, critiquing each other's work, and rewriting. Way to go, Miss Farrell and your students! Thanks for inviting me to Mother Teresa today. Special thanks, too, to principal Mrs. Villalta who attended part of my workshop; to Joan Wasserman, the super English consultant for the Sir Wilfred Laurier School Board; and to Mr. Bilodeau, who was videotaping the visit.
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Thank you so much for coming to our class Ms.Polak, I was wondering how would I know if readers would be interested in my writing, how could i catch someones attention in my writing! :-* Thanks!
I enjoyed meeting you today and appreciate the tips. I will work on developing my characters and work on editing my story. I will work on my S. D. T.( show don't tell) on my narrator and my parents. I will use your advice to continue improving my writing skills. I hope you come to my school again.
Please remember to tell Sarah Mlynowski, she is my favorite author. I love her series, ''Magic in Manhattan''. she has inspired me as a writer as well as you have.
Hello Ms. Polak!
I'm so happy you were able to join us in class. I love writing, and you motivated me and helped me get past my writer's block in the story I'm working. on Thank you! Once again, I would like to thank you, because now I'm on a roll in one of the stories I'm working on at home! As you said when you visited us: JUST KEEP WRITING! I've been using your strategy "S.D.T.", and I have to admit, I've seen improvement in my stories already! Thanks so so so much for coming to our class... It really made my day!
Yours in music,
Hey Abby! I just started my work day by reading your lovely message. Thanks so much for your comment. I'm glad some of my tips were useful. It sounds like you are on a writing roll! Have fun and work hard!! best from Monique
Hey Ms. Polak-
I just wanted to ask you- have you read the Hunger Games?
I have, and I think it's the best series ever, after Harry Potter of course!
The two series' are such imaginative escapes that are so easy to be lost in.
Yours in music,
I have read the first book of The Hunger Games -- and LOVED IT!! You know what? I need to go to the bookstore this week -- and now you've reminded me to buy the second book in the trilogy. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for staying in touch! best from Monique
Hey Mrs. polak!!!
It's me, the girl that guessed 8 on how may times you wroth the manuscript for one of your books.
I have been working on SDT and I have added 5 pages just on details in Chapter One- Septmber: Drama Strikes One.
I have also gotten a lot of the papers that have: What stayed with me- Questions- What if...
Most of my classmates that read my chapter one love the fact that it's real life but with some twists and a change of character names. It was fun to have you in our class and tell us the story of your necklace.
I was wondering if you could hepl me with aproblem.
I have been trying to think of a name for my character.
I've been trying to think of a unique name since you came to visit.
I have a last name. Trapani. I need something that would jump out. I'm going CRAZY!!!
Hi Kayla-Marie and Abby!
First of all, happy Thanksgiving to you, too! Hope you had delicious turkey and cranberry sauce!!
Kayla-Marie, it sounds like you are on a writing roll. Terrific! Keep it going. And I love the name Trapani. It has a nice sound and I love that it has the word TRAP in it. I bet that's going to tie in with the rest of your story. I'm wondering whether Trapani could even be a first name... hmmm.... something to think about.
Have a good week. It sure feels like Monday morning to me!! best from Monique
Hey Ms. Polak-
How are you? I hope you had a great day!
Yesterday I was working on my story, and I got a sudden huge idea for another one. I tried to fit it into the story I was writing at the moment, but I really couldn`t, because the plot is too developped. I really don`t know if I should try to write two stories at a time, or forget about one of them. What would you do?
Yours in music,
Wow, you're on even bigger roll than I imagined! Two stories? I say go with the flow -- write them both. It's a little like having two wonderful books to read! When that happens to me, I choose which book to read depending on the mood I'm in. Why don't you try the same thing with your writing? Keep me posted! Monique
Hey Ms. Polak!
Thanks for your advice! I really am grateful, because now I won't forget either of them!
By the way, I really want to buy your books "What world is left" and "Scarred".
I thought I'd let you know I am a fan to be, because I'm sure I'll love both of them!
I'll keep you posted!
Hi Ms. Polak!
I hope you're doing well!
As promised, I'm keeping you posted, and I have another question:
In one of the stories I'm working on at home, it is all in the 1st person, but switching back and forth between 2 people.
About halfway, I want them to come together, and from there, I want to tell it in the 3rd person...
Would you recommend me doing that?
I'm just worried it might mess up the whole story and confuse people that read it.
Hi Abby, Sorry for not getting back to you with my usual speed! You ask a very sophisticated question about switching from two narrators to the third person. Here's my gut response: you're a young writer and I think, at this stage, it's probably daring and difficult enough to manage the two narrators. I think the switch to third person could get confusing. I'll also admit that I have a soft spot for first person stories. They really give us a chance to get to know a character. So, there's my advice for what it's worth. And like I said, I'm most impressed with your question.
Best and thanks for being in touch, Monique
Hi Ms. Polak!
As promised, here is what has been happening with my writing lately!
So, I'm just starting to recover from writer's block, and I realized that my writing is sort of falling off topic. I've started focusing on one totally useless thing, and I'll go on and on about it. After doing that, I find it's hard to get back into the groove afterward... Do you have any advice?
I'm sorry for asking so many questions, I may seem harassing to you, but I love keeping in touch with published authors, mainly because I want to be one when I'm older!
Oh, yeah, and I wanted to tell you: My grandfather is a published author. By any chance, have you ever heard of Harold Griffin? He wrote a book and got it published last year by Borealis. The name of the book is "Fragile boys, fragile men".