Friday, May 25, 2007

Back To School

This past week, I got the opportunity to do something I never thought I'd want to do: revisit high school. Now, admittedly, this time I was there as a guest and not as a student. And it wasn't the high school I attended in my teenaged years. Still, the nerves I experienced the evening before were pretty familiar. Why was I pushing through throngs of adolescents in those painted brick walls? To speak to my daughter's English class (and a few others) about writing, of course!

Her teacher was thrilled with the idea of having a "real live writer" talk to his students about the writing process, what it takes to get published, and the various aspects of my "craft." For the most part, I found the kids fun, insightful, and interested in what I had to say. I didn't prepare a long speech beforehand, knowing that (a) the last thing these kids want is another person lecturing to them, and (b) I didn't want to repeat the same info to several different classes. I wanted to be able to hear their questions, find out what interested them, and let them choose the direction my visit took. It turned out to be the right course. In one class, we spent a lot of time discussing names for characters, in another, we discussed movies, and in a third, we talked about hidden themes. In each, however, I think the kids left with some kernel of information they didn't have beforehand. Who could ask for anything more?

So a great big thank you to Mr. Oatis for inviting me, and to all the students at Ward Melville High School for opening their classrooms to me! I had a wonderful time!