Friday, July 22, 2011

Go to the Principal's office!

Okay, so apparently hassling my sister into writing a novel with me has given her some crazy ideas about asking for favours in return. Quid pro quo, bitch, she may have been thinking. Or maybe not. She’s generally a less nasty person than I am. Anyhoo, Kath and another friend, both of them high school English teachers, had the great idea that while I’m on leave I should go in and talk to their classes about writing.

After I’d stopped laughing, I realised they were serious. And I am a little freaked out. While I’m always happy to discuss writing with people, I’m not sure I’m even remotely qualified to instruct. And while I’m sure it would be an absolute pleasure to talk to the students who are interested, what about the rest of the class? You know, the ninety-five percent of them who'd rather be doing something else?

I can’t talk to your class, Kath, I said, desperately looking for an escape clause, what if they ask me what I’ve written?

You don’t have to talk about that book, she said, referring to my definitely-for-adults-only venture. You can talk about the writing process, and about working towards publication.

It’s a short story unit, I countered, I don’t do short stories.

You’re more qualified to talk about writing than I am, she said.

Not anymore, I pointed out to my co-author, but she wasn’t buying it.

So I think I might have accidentally agreed to go and talk to some high school kids about writing. Unless I admit the truth: I haven’t given a talk to a group since uni, and it scares the bejesus out of me.

But, since I’m currently attempting YA, how stupid would it be not to take the chance to get some feedback from the target group? Hello potential new beta readers!

Crap. I think I might actually do this.


  1. I think if you make it a mix of how things are for aspiring writers in the currrent climate and also a fact finding mission as you mention then it could be really useful for both parties.

    I think there will be plenty of aspiring writers in any class, and they probably don't know how the publishing landscape has changed over recent years. I know I would have been interested at that age.

    Moody Writing

  2. I'm having heart palpitations for you. Sisters-- sometimes they just need a good throttling, you know?

    Let us know how it goes. Wow, it's like being lowered into a den of hungry lions or crocodiles or sharks...I'm not helping am I?

  3. Do it! The best way to get over public speaking is to do it a bunch. Best tip for dealing with high school students is change the activity every 10-15 minutes if you think people are getting restless/bored/done too early. Besides half the time of your talk could be spent having the kids brainstorm a story around some prompt (like tell me about the pink elephant wearing blue tights and listening to Jazz music?)

  4. You gotta do it. I'm breaking out in a cold sweat for you.

    Whatever you do, don't show fear...and if things get out of control, do not make eye contact and back slowly out of the room.

    Good luck.

  5. I will echo everyone's thoughts and say go for it! I only left high school a year ago, and I wish I had an opportunity like the great one you'll be able to give.

  6. Ooooh I don't know. The kids may be very interested in your, ah, adult only project ;)

    Seriously though, enjoy it! You could really inspire the class.

    Interactive elements are really important to holding their attention, but if you do group work, let them pick their own friends to work with.

    Enjoy it!

  7. Thanks, Mood! Yeah, the more I think about it the more I think I can actually do this!

    @ LG, no, not helping. Not helping at all!

    Thanks, Steph! Yeah, it won't be too bad!

  8. Hi Marsha! I"m sure most of my fear comes from remembering some of my own high school classes - sitting under the desks while the boys up the back threw spit balls and the poor first-year teacher didn't know what to do. But this is my sister's class, and I know how scary she can be! They should be on fairly short leashes!

  9. Thanks GK. I'm trying to think positively, and see it as an opportunity!

    Miss COle, I'm sure they'd be very interested in my adult only project, but I won't be talking about that!



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