Includes book reviews and bits from writer's journal. For the professional stuff, see website link below left.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Career: Writer – Author

I am sitting in a courtyard at Crystal Creek Primary School, at a small table with a display of materials to do with writing — books for writers; books by me and Andrew; samples of zines and other cheaply produced, self-published books; handouts about writing; my Kobo e-reader; paper and pens and an invitation to write a few lines on something they like and why they like it; some pocket-size notebooks (the paper kind); and me writing on my iPad. I am wearing my Austin International Poetry Festival T-shirt, that I got when I was a featured reader there in 2006.

Behind and around me are tables with a pilot, a welfare worker, a naturopath, a credit union representative, someone from Southern Cross University, and others too distant for me to read their labels. Mine is Writer – Author. Some teacher has written a little blurb to say that this requires things like good powers of observation, good grammar and correct spelling. 

A few minutes ago, after we got set up, hordes of kids and a few parents and teachers poured from the main building. The noise level now is high.  

And that was the last I wrote for a while. I haven't been inundated but several kids and quite a few parents who write have had a chat. I'm giving the parents the hand-outs too, and also my card. 

Lots of kids are now carrying balloons bearing the name of a local real estate agent. One tiny girl dressed as a fairy asked me, 'Can I have a bag?' She didn't seem too cast down when I said I didn't have any, just fluttered off to find someone who did.

My 'write a few lines' thing isn't madly popular. The little kids are keener than the older ones to have a go.  The last one wrote with great confidence something I can't decipher!

Some come out of curiosity, or because their teachers or parents told them to. The real writers are glad to talk about what they like to write. Few have questions, other than to ask what I've written. I find myself saying over and over that the beauty of being a writer is that you can have another job if you like and still be a writer as well. The girl who lives across the road from me, a student here, who invited me to come, wants to be a vet and to write as well. One of the boys I met today loves to write stories (not just for school) and wants to be a mechanic.

I am gently subverting the notion that one's English must be perfect in order to be a writer. 'Good grammar is great,' I say, 'And being able to spell. But if you can't, don't worry — that's what editors are for.' And if they hesitate at the blank page, I say, 'I'm not a schoolteacher. Write whatever you like.' This invariably produces a grin and a moving pen.

The organisers gave all the careers people a small bottle of water and a piece of fruit. I chose a mandarin — a bit messy, as it turned out. We also received a Certificate of Appreciation, in a plastic bag which I was able to use for my rubbish instead.

Lots of people have been taking photos, some of them apparently for the press. I asked a passing mum, at the beginning, if she'd snap me. (See above.) 

A father whose daughter has a vocation for writing asked if I'd be interested in taking part in the writers' section of the big Ukitopia festival at Uki in November. I am. I gave him my card.

And again I became too busy to write. Now I'm home after the event. What a delightful morning! The children were polite, friendly, natural. All the teachers looked happy and spoke warmly. They laid on morning tea for us afterwards and I found out over a cuppa and biscuit that it wasn't just Crystal Creek school, though that's where it was held; they had combined with five of the other tiny schools round about. Judging by the demeanour of the teachers, small classes must be very fulfilling.

When Andrew and I first moved to this unit at the beginning of 2010, two little girls across the road, from different families, took a shine to us. They liked our cats, who liked them too. Then they created a 'street newspaper' by hand, wrote all the content themselves, and delivered it to every letterbox. This excited us — particularly ex-journalist Andrew — and we started talking to them about writing. (Theirs was very good.) Consequently, last week the mother of one little girl, who teaches at a Murwillumbah school, invited me to judge the students' poetry competition; and this week the other little girl invited me to today's event. And out of that comes the Ukitopia invitation, which might involve running a writing workshop, giving a poetry performance, or both. 

I didn't get enough writings to create a booklet, as I had ideas of doing. These are what I got:

Harrison wrote down the outline of a novel he wants to write: 'A man who lost his family, and when he went on a cruise the ship got bombed and he wakes up in an abandoned island.'

Sarah wrote the start of a story: 'Across the moonlit meadows a sleek figure watched upon a herd of wild brumbies.'

The littlest girls drew hearts on their pages, under their words. Aurora said she wanted to be a vet, Bree noted that she was at the careers day, and I'm still not sure what Ruby said. 

Lauren wrote, 'I like writing stories about fairie tales and making people feel they are in the story, and they feel they are on an amazing journey.' 

Matilda wrote, 'I like to write because it makes me feel happy and free.' 

Lily wrote, 'I <3 to read because I can also write my own books and when you have read a lot of books you know what to write about.' 

Brahminy wrote, 'I like writing about imaginative stories because it makes you feel light and happy. And I <3 to read.' 

[The hearts in the last two entries were drawn the right way up, but I don't have a way of doing that in my blog.] 

And finally Hayley, who invited me, wrote, 'I feel happy when I am writing. All I need is imagination.'

1 comment:

  1. what a marvellous thing to do. a few kids there will never forget that.


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