Monday, February 8, 2016

Back to School

Photo: Beanworks via Morguefile
For the first year or so after I retired, I returned pretty frequently to the elementary school where I'd been a counselor. I went back about once every two weeks to assist with a writing group that the seminar teacher ran for talented writers. But after two years, changes in staffing and changes in my schedule coincided, and it's been a while since I've been inside any public school besides my daughter's.

But today, I get to visit a school again -- a middle school -- and I get to talk about one of my favorite topics: writing. I'm nervous and excited. It's not that I'm unused to standing up in front of a group of people -- I teach, after all -- but it's been a while since the students in my audience were younger than seventeen.

Then again, the age of the audience is only part of it. I'm always nervous and excited when I speak before a new group of people. I love speaking engagements, but they're different from teaching, and, when you enter a school building to talk to a group of kids of any age, finding the sweet spot between storytelling and teaching is always the challenge.

I'm bringing my books. Although the novels aren't meant for a middle school audience, I'm bringing them anyway because they, along with my nonfiction books, are evidence. Evidence that if you keep writing -- beyond the tests, beyond the required assignments, beyond the dull, dry research papers -- and zoom in on what you love to write about, books happen. It's hard, it's unpredictable and, for most of us, it's not a living. But it's worth it.

Photo: Click via Morguefile
Speaking of books, I'm doing another giveaway this week. Stay tuned for another post later today with details (and the announcement of last week's winners), or check out The Fussy Librarian on Twitter, as this one's in conjunction with @FussyLibrarian.

Meanwhile, wish me luck. I'm hoping to inspire, but, since it's a Monday morning with middle schoolers, I'll settle for feigned enthusiasm.

It's okay. I've got plenty of the actual kind to spare.

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