There are a lot of things I like about being a writer.
1) I work alone.
2) I do what I want when I want to.
3) I get to let my mind run amok.
4) The research is always interesting.
5) Seeing my name in print kicks ass.
6) The reaction I get from strangers when they ask me what I do for a living. (It also kicks ass)
7) The feeling of pride when people like my work.
But one of my absolute faves is visiting schools and meeting cool kids who are smart and thoughtful and sometimes give me comments like this: “When you came to visit us I sat down and listened to you carefully. I think that you taught me a lot of things about writing. Also you taught me that publishing a book and going through all the editors isn’t as fun as it seems. Also when you read your draft of the other book that you’re writing I thought it was great. I liked the way you used your words and explain with details. Maybe with everything that you taught us I will be better at writing OEQ’s*. Thanks for visiting !”**
Yesterday I was at the middle school in my town. About a week before visiting, the students started posting on my Angel’s Grace blog so that I could answer some of their questions. It was great because we all got pumped up about my visit. As a result, we were all really engaged because we were already a bit familiar with each other. And because I got a sense of who they were ahead of time, the power point presentation I put together and the articles from my writing life that I brought along were very much tailored to them. There was actually an audible groan of disappointment when I came to the end of the slide show.
It’s good news for me because I know that it was a productive vist for everyone, but it was very informative to me for preparing for future visits. We say in writing: know your audience. The same is true for presentations, obviously, but the ability to blog with them gives authors an added advantage. I was able to address some of the students by their names and include information specific to their interests.
Of course, not every student is going to want to blog. Not every student is able to for various reasons. But as much as possible, I’m going to encourage, if not the students, then at least the teachers to communicate with me ahead of time so that customizing a presentation for the audience is possible. I could have the greatest school visits ever, every time!
Bring on the next one. It’s one of my favorite parts, remember?
If you would like to contact me for a school visit, please comment on this blog, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* OEQs = open-ended questions
** I edited her comments slightly. You can see her original post here.