Essays, Misc

Taking Writing into the Community: A Class Visit

June 6, I went to visit my daughter’s class to talk about writing. The class had already published a book in their French class with a local writer based on an original idea, and their English teacher had been busily working with them to teach them the basics of story writing. So when I got there, I felt like they were primed.

The Thank You card from the class
The Thank You card from the class

Now, I’ll be honest. I was nervous. I don’t write stories for children and I kept thinking, “How am I going to hold the attention of 20 grade 2 students…and not embarrass my daughter???”

Well, I succeeded, I think. I decided to show up equipped with a few things to talk about, just in case. So, I spent the night before hunting through the Jungle (otherwise known as the basement) looking for old binders containing my writing from my teen-aged years, figuring I’d show them how things were done ‘old school’ (ie. With pen and paper). I packed the biggest book I could find, Patrick Rothfuss’s A Wise Man’s Fearyou should have seen their eyes pop and their jaws grow slack when they heard it contains over 1000 pages and more than 151 chapters! lol I also brought a copy of one of my all-time favorite books as a kid, a silly romp called Morris and Boris by Bernard Wiseman as well as my laptop to show them different writing programs and my blog.  

It was fun! The kids asked great questions, they participated well and before you know it, two hours had passed.

One of the activities we did was break the students up into groups to complete a writing exercise like ‘real writers’. They came up with their own prompt words and then each student was asked to come up with one to two sentences for their group story. They were encouraged to just have fun and to be creative. I have transcribed them below EXACTLY as they were written. These are the prompt words: DOG, PIZZA HUT, STONE AGE, YELLOW, LOST

The students' stories. They got to write on the BOG paper with markers!
The students’ stories. They got to write on the BOG paper with markers!

Group 1: The Dog who Got Lost in the Stone Age

Once upon a time their was a Dog. He was eating at Pizza Hut. He went in the frorest and he got lost. He saw honey he wanted to eat the honey. So he eat the honey. He turned yellow. He saw a time machine. He went inside. He saw aliens in the stone age. So he got scared. He tried to eat the rock. He broke his teeth. He tried to fix his tooth with a rock. The rock got stuck to the honey. The aliens took the dog. He was scared. Then the aliens took the dog back to the present. He was happy! Then the next day it was Christmas. Then it was Easter. The Valentine’s Day. Then it was his birthday. The End!

By Chloe, Adam, Flo, and Danika

Group 2: The Dog and the Cave Man Stone Age

Once upon a time there was a golden retriever. He went to the pizza Hut and he found a cave man. The cave man ate all the pizza. The dog was sad. He got mad. Then he wanted to go home but he was lost. He saw a yellow light. It was mustard. He said ware’s there is mustard there is a resterront! He said I wand a hot dog! The end.

By Claudia, and Isabella and Tyler

Group 3: Untitled

Once upon a time there was a yellow alien who had a pet dog. His favorite restaurant was pizza Hut. He was going to the pizza hut for his birthday. He was about to eat and then he couldn’t find his dog. Then a chidah brot him back to his oner. They they went to a time mashin and whente to the stonige. Two days later the time machine brought them back to the pissa Hut and ate pizza.

By Ludvic, Océanne, Noah and Lacey

Group 4: The dog in stone age

Once there was a dog name Filbert. He was lost in the stone age. He was yellow and hungry. Then Filbert saw pizza hut in the middle of nowhere. The pizza was made out of stone. Then a man found the dog and he tried to kill jim. But Filbert bit his butt and ran away. Filbert ran to his time machine and went home. The end!

By Brennan, Nivea, Liam, Kevin

Group 5: Untitled

Onece upon a time there was a dog that was yellow that loved pizza. So we went to pizza hut and bought five cheese pizzas. The pizza had yellow cheese on it. His enemy the witch took two peaces of the hot pizza. Then the Stone Age came out of the ground. He pooped on every won. When the Stone Age pooed on them. They thought it was chocolate. Then the people ate it!!!!!!!!!!!! Then 1000 million days later there was a girl who was lost in a scary and creepy forest. She wanted to go to pizza hut. But she did not no where pizza hut is. The friendly dog came in the forest and found the girl. So the dog brought her to pizza hunt! They lived happily ever after the end

By Seann, Megan, Victoriane, Gabriel

As a writer, this visit was one of my favorite experiences. The kids were eager and interested and they took to the writing activity with fervor. It reminded me I was that age when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I just hope that if any of those students are thinking about pursuing writing that they will be encouraged to go for it, and that those who never thought about it before might change their mind. In any case, I am grateful to Miss Kim, their teacher, for inviting me to visit with the class and to the students for giving me an experience I won’t forget.

photo 1

Thank you!


Essays, Misc

Another Day in a Writer’s Life

So this is really cool. Yesterday I went to my old high school, Trafalgar, to drop off a copy of my book, The Purple Morrow, for their library. It was weird to go back since I haven’t set foot in there since 1992. The school is so different. People are smiling and happy in there! lol Even the students!

The librarian took me up to the library. The surface of the school may look different after all this time, but its bones are the same–it’s amazing how many memories came flooding back in the 20 minutes I was there. Anyway, the visit turned out to be a great experience: the librarian is also a writer and she introduced me to some writing conferences and other resources in our city and the surrounding areas I was not aware of, as well as asked if I would be interested in visiting the students to talk about writing and whatnot, possibly even participating at their Career Day event next spring. The prospects terrify but also excite me. My high school English teacher’s encouraging words as she presented me with a package of some of my favorite short stories from that year stayed with me, and years later I ended up achieving my writing goals. Perhaps these activities can help me return the favor and help another budding writer find their own path to their dreams.

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When it comes to my book, I can be a little shy about promoting it in person. I went into that meeting with no expectations, almost deciding to just drop off the envelope at the receptionists’ desk and walking out. But I took a chance and decided to follow the thing through. I ended up being blown away by what could happen when you take chances: doors can open.

Again, this confirms to me that though social marketing and networking are powerful tools, actual contact with people is so much more validating. Nothing can replace seeing the smile on a person’s face or the affirming nod they give when then like your book, or the pleased tone in their voice when they complement your work. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well, it’s ‘just a school contact’, that’s small fries.” But you know what? I felt and still feel like a million bucks about it. And here’s one more cool story I have to share with my kids about how Mom took a chance, reached out, and saw one more stone set in place for her to move forward towards furthering her dreams. That’s hard to beat. 🙂

Image provided by
Image provided by

 How do you feel about getting out into the community to network or to bring your brand “to the people?” How have you been received when you’ve tried it?