Well you've got to meet Don Aker -- my speaking partner this weekend at GritLit, a literary festival in Hamilton, Ontario (or "The Hammer" as the locals call it). Don and I just did a reading and talk together at the local high school. The kids, who were in grades 9 to 12, were great. They were attentive listeners and they asked smart questions. I took notes on some of the thingsDon had to say, and so in today's blog entry, I get to share them with you. First of all, like me, Don works full-time -- he's now doing teacher training programs in Nova Scotia, but usually he teaches math and language arts. So when does he find time to write? I asked him and it turns out Don is an early -- a very early -- riser. He gets up at 4 a.m. so that he can be at his computer by 4:30 and he writes for about an hour-and-a-half. I was surprised to hear Don tell the students he doesn't think he has much of an imagination. But like many of the other writers you've "met" on this blog, Don gets inspiration from real life. "Everything I've ever written," he told the kids this afternoon, "has always grown out of something that bothered me." Interesting, no?
Don's new book, The Space Between, isn't just about a teenager who wants to lose his virginity in a hurry! It's also about the impact of a suicide. Don told us how he personally knew three people who committed suicide, including his uncle and a student at his school. "They all taught me the narrative of suicide is the narrative of those who are left behind." So The Space Between focuses on the story of one of those people who's been left behind.
One student askedus if we ever find it difficult to find the right ending for our books. I loved what Don answered. He said that when he's working on an ending, he asks himself, "What do I want my reader to feel and understand at the end of this book?"
And I'll end today's blog entry with one more of Don's tips. This one's more about the emotional life of a writer: "Surround yourself with people who believe in what you're doing!"
We're doing another joint event tomorrow. And tonight, there's a dinner for the writers in town for the festival. Who knows what other useful and inspiring advice I'll glean for you, dear blog reader?!
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I love the quotes you choose to share with us... they're all so inspiring! It's true that real life has plenty to offer, you just have to look for ideas. I wrote a short paragraph this afternoon on how my ink, when I was taking notes in class, glistened in the sun yesterday afternoon... just to remember the beauty of the little things.
I agree with the idea that those who suffer in a suicide are those that are left behind... and I'll add that book to my list of stuff-to-read-that's-not-related-to-school!
I love that quote "Surround yourself with people who believe in what you're doing", not only does it apply to writers but to everything in life...