I had the wonderful opportunity last week to be a visiting author at two local middle schools, speaking to a total of six 6th grade classes, or about 200 students. It was awesome!!! As some of you might remember, I spent the better part of the past ten years teaching middle school kids, so there was little stress involved (as compared to my three minutes in front of City Council, which I may or may not blog about later), only a lot of energy expended.
Here’s what’s so great: they are a big part of my intended audience and whether or not they had read my books (some had, most had not), they really appreciated my visit. Because of the recent budget constraints, most of them hadn’t yet experienced an author visit. It was a big deal to them, and I understand, because I have been known to stand in line at more than one bookstore to “meet” an author and get his or her signature.
It’s fun being the big deal.
It’s fun talking about the writing process and my writing process.
It’s fun seeing the stories and books they are writing.
It’s so great to be both inspiring and inspired. Many of the students sent me little handwritten notes afterwards:
Today [Mrs. Smith] inspired me to start writing some books.
Thank you for inspiring me to read so I’ll be a better writer.
Thank you for sharing your book. It was very interesting and it made me want to read it.
I would love to be a writer when I grow up. I’ve actually been entering my books in 4-H…
I loved your visit to our school … I used all my points to buy your book.
I inspire them … they inspire me …
It was a real honor to have you come to our school …
I hope your other books go well.
I plan on reading all your books when they come out.
The presentation was amazing.
Keep calm and keep writing.
What’s not to love? And now I need to take a little time to answer some of the questions they sent me after I was gone. So listen up, kids!
What was your favorite genre to read about as a 6th grader?
I don’t really remember; I wasn’t much of a reader in 6th grade. I do remember really liking mysteries, though.
Who is your favorite author?
I don’t think I have a favorite author. But I have read almost everything by Jodi Picoult. However, she is not a children’s author. (If you want to know more of the middle grade and YA books I like, please see the previous post.)
What inspired you to start writing?
I had a creative writing teacher in high school who inspired me to journal. Then in one of my Master’s degree programs I did a lot of writing, particularly poems. Not sure why I started writing novels about seven years ago. It’s something I think I had always wanted to do and then one day sat down and got started!
What was your earliest memory of writing?
I think maybe that would be the evidence of my name written in capital letters on every one of my grandmother’s children’s books, with the capital R in reverse. But, oh, that’s not what you meant. I actually remember writing stories in my big Morton Salt shaped spiral notebook. I wrote stories because I liked making up the titles, and especially naming the characters!!
I dedicate this post to all of you kids at Waldo, Claggett Creek, and Pratum, and the other kids I’ve heard from who have read or done class projects and book reports on my books: YOU GUYS INSPIRE ME!!!! (And a big thank you to all the teachers and parents as well :))
And I love hearing from you, so don’t be shy!