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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.
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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.