Hello blog readers -- and because this is my first blog entry for 2022, Happy New Year!
Speaking of happy, I've had a happy start to my day -- thanks to ELAN's ArtistsInspire program, I'll be doing a series of writing workshops for Grades Five and Six students at Mount Pleasant Elementary School in Hudson. We had out first session together this morning, via Zoom, and I have officially fallen in love with the students! Today's pic is a bit blurry, but it'll help you understand my affection for the classes -- they were super hardworking and focused (as you can tell from the picture, taken during the writing portion of today's workshop).
My goal is to get all of these students started on a book! Today, I shared some of my writing tips (I've kept a few for my second visit!); told a story (I love telling stories!); and got the students to do some writing. There was also a little time for questions. A student named Anya asked, "Can we combine fiction and non-fiction in our stories?" I had the strangest urge to hug Anya after she asked that question -- of course, that's impossible during a Zoom, and not recommended during a class visit either (especially not during a pandemic!!). What I loved about Anya's question is that she seems already to be "getting it" -- that, as I see it, all fiction writing is rooted in reality -- in true feelings and lived experiences. One of the best parts of being a fiction writer though is that we get to change things up -- invent our own endings! As we all know, that doesn't always happen in real life!
Claudia had a good question too: "Why did you start writing?" Oddly, I don't think in all these years of doing school visits that I've ever been asked that question. So I had to come up with an answer quickly!! I told Claudia I started writing because I love stories. I collect them the way that some people collect shoes or teapots! And I also came up with another explanation that even made me laugh. Earlier, I had said that writers need to read -- and I compared that to how chefs need to taste other people's cooking. So I said that for me the need to write is a little like a chef who gets amazing ingredients. If you're a chef and someone hands you a gorgeous cauliflower, well you'll want to turn it into soup or a soufflé! When I observe interesting things going on around me, or read about interesting stuff, I get this urge to turn it into stories.
At the end of my sessions, a student named Phoenix wanted to know, "Are we going to present our stories?" I told Phoenix I really liked his question and I could tell he's a good organizer. Afterall, he was getting me organized too! I even suggested to Phoenix that he might make a good prime minister one day!! So yes, Phoenix, and all the other kids in Grades Five and Six at Mount Pleaasant, here's the plan: if possible, use the writing prompt I gave you today to start a story. Try adding the "what if?" technique I taught you this morning. If you can write a paragraph or two, I'll do my best to give you some writing advice during my next visit. And in a wrap-up session, those of you who are willing can present your stories to the class. But no pressure!
Anyways, thanks to all of you today for being so smart and fun and focused. Thanks to your teachers Miss Sarah, Madame Stéphanie, Ms. Malone and Madame Valérie for sharing you with me. Thanks to librarian Ms. Hausen for arranging the visit and thanks to principal Ms. Daoust for her enthusiasm. Thanks also to the ELAN ArtsInspire team. I'm already looking forward to having more fun with my friends at Mount Pleasant -- and to reading your stories!
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