Paul Kelly, writing teacher for Monona Grove High School, had me come talk to his class this Wednesday. I hope they had a good time, because I had a BLAST.
I thought of so many things I wanted to tell them after we were done. I got two whole hours, though—so I packed a lot in. The teachers on the sidelines kindly suppressed shudders when I got up and said, “Hi. I’m going to tell you how I started to write for a couple of minutes, and then I’m going to take questions.”
The kids, and the teachers, had enough questions for two hours. So many of them I had no idea how to answer, like, “Where do your characters come from?” I did my best.
The thing I really wish I’d said I missed when I was talking about building internal discipline to do the work you love. I wish I’d added, “if you do it at the same time every day, and you keep coming back, it doesn’t matter if one day you do a crap job, because you’ll have another day, and another. It takes the pressure off. It invites the muse.”
I got a dear thank-you email from one of the students, saying she was inspired to draw more. Hearing this made my day, because I knew I’d reached someone, helped someone. A friend tells me there were a bunch of positive tweets, too. Good, because I was having an awful lot of fun, and I would have been sorry to find that anyone had been bored out of their gourds.
I remember seeing a t-shirt that says, “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” I was glad to lend a hand with the next generation; we have to take care of them, because without them, well—no next generations, right? Duh.