When Cathy Greenfeder asked me to participate in an author’s panel discussion at the middle school where she teaches, I said yes without hesitating. I’m a strong advocate of applied education. These students were in a creative writing program, listening to and meeting authors was an object lesson. I thought I to give these budding writers a debut author’s perspective, some of my first hand knowledge about writing, editing, the excitement of the first call, and ebook publishing. There was that and so much more.
I met twenty-five smart savvy students, most of whom participated in NaNoWriMo and, drum roll please, wrote 50,000 words. These students accomplished something wonderful. They learned the elements of a story, understood genres and how the workings of the various troupes. Impressive! And they finished their story. What a great accomplishment. We spoke how we each agonized over edits and re-writes, the hundreds of words and pages that are tossed, and stressed a final story could well be the 15th draft.
I too listened to the biographies and presentations of each of these multi-published authors. I knew all of them but came away with a new appreciation. I know the students caught the recurring theme through all our presentations. We love to write. That said, we didn’t gloss over the hard parts. Lisa Dale spoke about the care and attention she gives to words. Isabo Kelly spoke about research, Nancy Herkness spoke about the pantzer, and Lisa Verge Higgins addressed plotting.
They were attentive and curious. When we broke up into small groups, we had some great discussions about genre, research, why we write, how our families feel about our writing, and how we get ideas for characters and stories. What creative energy! When I got home, I emailed Cathy with a thank you and signed up for next year.