Tuesday, 30 April 2013

“I never knew that everyone is a writer” - Lari Don

I’ve just opened an envelope of letters from a class I visited before Easter to chat about my new novel Maze Running, and the very top letter on the pile contained this line:

I never knew that everyone is a writer and that you don’t have to be an author to make great stories.

I was absolutely delighted, because that’s exactly what I hope kids will take from my author visits.

I do lots of school visits, and I hope I never walk in like the big fancy author (I’m usually in scruffy jeans and unpolished boots, so I’m not often mistaken for fancy) and I hope I never pontificate about being a writer as if I was the only writer in the room. I hope I always talk to kids, whether it’s half a dozen kids in a workshop or 400 in a theatre, as if we were all writers.

Because we are all writers.

When I visit a school as an author, we all share our passion for stories, we all play together with ideas and what ifs and monsters in dark corners. Sometimes the teachers even join in too! And because we make stories together, we are all writers.

I try to give children confidence in their imaginations and their stories, which is a sneaky way of giving them confidence in themselves.

So that can be the value of authors visiting schools. Kids who discover that they are writers too. That everyone is a writer.

And the value to me of school visits? I get a lot of inspiration. (Not from the kids’ own ideas, which I’d rather they wrote, but their enthusiasm and feedback always inspire me.) Also I get paperclips. Yes, paperclips. There are very few material perks to being a kids’ writer, but when I receive thank you letters and stories inspired by my visits, they often arrive held together with splendid paperclips. In this case, a nice big black and white stripy paperclip.

So, a child who heard what I was trying to say, and a cool paperclip. Not a bad day’s work…

I wonder what message, if any, other authors hope to leave behind when they visit schools?

(This is my first ever Awfully Big Blog Adventure post, and it’s been a bit of an adventure getting it up here. I hope you can all read it and I also hope you enjoyed it! See you again next month…)

Lari Don is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books for all ages, including fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers.
Lari’s website
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9 comments:

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks for your post. A great reminder of the pleasures of school visits and meeting up with children.

caroljchristie said...

Great post, Lari! Although I have to say I have never gained a paperclip from a school visit - at least not so far.

Sue Purkiss said...

Welcome, Lari, and I hope you gain lots more paper clips!

Emma Barnes said...

Welcome, Lari!

I'm impressed you wear jeans...I'd like to wear my dog walking tracksuit bottoms (which is what I usually write in) when I go into schools, but I'm concerned the teachers will think I'm taking the mick. So I end up looking like a teacher...not the best way of saying writing is for everyone!

Emma Barnes said...

By the way, I didn't mean to suggest my tracksuit bottoms walk the dog unaided. Though that would be good...

Joan Lennon said...

Welcome, Lari!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I remember when I was only slightly younger writing stories I was full of enthusiasm for, and then someone asking me what I was doing,
'I'm writing a story'
'oh'
And then dies the enthusiasm. Now I just write because I enjoy it. A lot. And I want to explore my ideas further. So yes, I have more confidence and I am a writer....
I also collect special paper clips, especially the ones that come on my achievement certificates I love
xxx
Loved the post,
Hazel

Lari Don said...

I'm so glad you all enjoyed the post! I should say, Emma, that I wear jeans because if I turned up in the clothes I wear to write (ie a fluffy dressing gown) I'd not get into many schools!

Lari Don said...

And Hazel, I do hope you keep all your confidence and all your enthusiasm (and all your paperclips!) and don't let anyone else's lack of understanding or enthusiasm dent your passion!