I'm calling today's blog post "Time for a Writing Exercise" because usually when I say those words to a group of young people, they groan. (I think that's because most of them know writing is a lot of work, and they'd rather just sit back and listen to an author yak!). But yesterday, when I was in Quebec City for the 2016 Performing Arts Festival, and I announced, "Time for a writing exercise," I got quite a different reaction. In fact, Marjolie, who goes to Shawinigan High School and was the youngest participant in the session, called out, "Oh good!"
What made yesterday's writing workshop so much fun was that the dozen or so students I worked with all WANTED to be there. In fact, it was hard to get them to STOP WRITING!
I was the only fiction writer at the festival. There was also a trapeze artist named Hélèna Courteau, a singer, two drummers, two magicians (one named Carl Pellerin), a potter... to name just a few of the other workshop leaders. So with that competition, I was pretty thrilled to get any students at all to sign up for my workshop!
When I talked about how important it is for writers to read -- A LOT and ALL THE TIME, a young man named Christopher, who attends St. Patrick's High School in Quebec City, talked about the effect reading has on him. He told us, "When I read, I use it to gain ideas and inspiration to write." I was also impressed to learn that Christopher has been writing stories since he was in Secondary I and that he has a special interest in mythology.
I showed the students the journal I write in every single morning. Because they were curious to know the kinds of things I write about in my journal, I discussed observation, catharsis, intuition and reflection -- four styles of journal writing. I told them that intuitive writing is my favourite kind of journal writing. A student named Allyson, who also goes to St. Patrick's, told us she keeps a dream journal. Oh, did that ever make me happy! Writing about dreams is another great way to tap into imagination and inspiration.
I have to admit I was a little sad when the workshop ended. It was a real treat to work with such enthusiastic young people. Something tells me that in not too many years from now, I'll be reading some of THEIR books.
Special thanks to Aurian Haller, the consultant/musician/poet who organizes the Performing Arts Festival, and to Quebec High School for hosting the event. But thanks most of all to my workshop participants -- the grown-up ones too -- you were a DREAM for this writer!!
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Good morning Monique, I just wanted to let you know that I had a spring in my step all weekend because of the great workshop you held for the PAF at Québec High School last Friday. I enjoyed every minute because of your enthusiasm, your knowledge, and your willingness to share your experiences with us. The students were pretty awesome too! I like writing (even if it is for my eyes only) but I wonder why I stopped writing a journal long ago.... I listened to an audiobook recently and the main character writes in a journal. Something he said made me laugh out loud. He said keeping a journal is "... like keeping a record of my own stupidity..." Is that why I don't write in a journal anymore? Keeping a journal is more like keeping a record of your own personal growth and development as a person, not stupidity. Looking back in an old journal is like a reminder of who you were, and yeah, maybe it is embarrassing, or maybe you don't want to remember, but it is far from stupid! The book, just in case you were wondering, is called Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Thanks again for the great day and best wishes on your future writing projects.
Chelsea! That is such a great message. Thanks so much for posting it. I have taken a note about the Aristotle and Dante book -- I'm going to look for it asap. And I love the line about "keeping a record of my own stupidity." I laughed out loud when I read it. Sounds like my writing workshop came at a good time for you. My hunch is that you were heading back to writing anyway -- but I'm glad I gave you a kick in the pants! Best best from Monique