Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Braeside School Visit

I had a terrific afternoon at Braeside School in Highland Park. I was the keynote speaker at their wonderful annual Writer's Conference. This program is outstanding! Librarian Anne Shimojima runs the whole thing. All the fourth and fifth graders wrote and revised stories in their classes. Anne read every story and divided the kids up into groups of eight. Then she sent those manuscripts to professional writers who volunteered to read and critique the stories ahead of time. There was a Newsweek reporter, Chicago Tribune sportswriter, fiction writers, non-fiction writers, etc. 

Today, we all had lunch together, I did a little presentation, and then we broke off into our critique groups. Lucky me... I got the best of the best manuscripts. I honestly was blown away by how talented the kids were. It was such a privilege to read their stories. I am 100% sure we will be seeing some of these kids in print someday. And besides all that, these were the nicest bunch of kids I think I've ever met. I had each child comment on the first page of everyone else's story. I didn't have to give them any kind of guidance. They simply heaped on the praise (commenting astutely on all the things I felt deserved complimenting!), and when they had something constructive to say, they worded their comments as gentle questions. I think the kids gained so much from the experience! And so did I!

Meanwhile... I'm guilty of no progress at all on my first draft of Novel #3. Today I was busy with karate and the school visit. Yesterday was just crazy. But tomorrow I have critique group. Hopefully that will help me get back on track.

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