The Secondary I students at Joliette HIgh School were a little creeped out this morning when I told them that I recycle kids. Logan shuddered, and a student named Benoit said, "It made me think you'd put us in one of those recycling machines that would squish us up!"
But, as I explained to the students, that's what writers do. We recycle life experiences, and that includes the places we go and the people we meet, into our books!
Here's a pic from today's visit.
If you're wondering why I look so happy, it isn't only because the three groups of students I worked with were fun, focused and had loads of good questions. It's also because their teacher (she's the lovely young woman standing next to me), Ms. Beddia, USED TO BE MY STUDENT!
Here are a few highlights from today's visit. I loved what a student named Lyana wrote when I asked students to reflect on how they feel about writing: "I kinda like writing because you can put your feelings into another character." Exactly, Lyana! In that way, writing helps us gain distance from our own feelings, which can get pretty complicated sometimes. And another thing you can try to do when you write is imagine being someone with completely different feelings. For instance, I could try imagining what it would like to be SHY (if you know me, you will know I am extremely un-shy!).
When I asked the class to write about a memory of being five years old, Logan wrote a lovely paragraph about playing hide 'n seek with his brother, and getting trapped in a closet. I asked Logan's permission to share it with you here. "I couldn't get out. I was laughing because I thought he was holding it [the door] closed. When I heard his footsteps, I knew the door was locked and I started to worry." Excellent suspense there, Logan!
At lunch, a student named Bianca came to show me a story she's been writing called "An Amazing Weekend." I told Bianca she's a fine writer, who writes excellent sentences, but that she needs to focus more on individual scenes and also include some feelings. Also I have to admit I was touched when I got to the end of Bianca's story and read these words: "Thank you so much Monique Polak for reading my text. It means the world to me." Well, Bianca, thanks for sharing your story, for hanging out with me at lunch, and also for showing me the shortcut out of the school. Thanks to you, I did not get stuck in traffic on the way home.
After lunch, I worked with two more classes. I asked the first group to practise their observation skills by observing something or someone interesting in the classroom. Joey observed that a student named Doriano wasn't doing the exercise! Then I observed that Doriano has the kind of smile tht must make it easy for him to get away with stuff!
The last class was super lively. A student named Shawn asked me if the cardboard thingy I was handing out was a bookmark. When I told him that yes it was, Shawn said, "YESSSSS!" A student named Charly (love that name, I think it must be short for Charlene) wanted to know how many drafts I write for every book. I told her it's got to be at least 50 if you count all the re-writing I do at my computer before my editor gives me a whole new set of comments and suggestions for improving the manuscript.
A student named Michael wanted to know which of my books was my favourite. I told him that that's like asking a parent which child is her favourite. Then Nathan called out, "It's always the youngest!" Very funny, Nathan... and guess what I found out? Nathan is the eldest of three siblings!
So thanks, you guys for a wonderful day. Thanks to Ms. Emond for helping to arrange the visit, and to Ms. Beddia for being wonderful with her students and also with her former teacher!
Keep writing, all of you. Stay out of trouble in your lives, but include trouble in your stories. I feel lucky that I got to hang out with all of you today!