A few weeks ago I visited a writing group for grades 5-6 at Ecole Grosvenor Park School in Halifax, NS. They call themselves ‘The Inklings.’ Cynthia d’Entroment (author of Unlocked and soon to be Oak Island Revenge) is the leader of this wonderful group of students along with grade six teacher Jane Everitt. They meet weekly over the lunch hour and work on their writing. They’ve covered such topics as spying an idea, showing vs telling, dialogue, building suspense and much more.
When talking with Cynthia about what I might do with them, I asked her where the school was located.
I nearly died.
It turned out to be the very school where I attended grades 3-5, but more importantly it was the school I imagined my characters in, ‘Maxed Out’ attend. During the re writes of Maxed Out I had decided to write in all those people who helped me with this story into it as a thank you. Cynthia became the teacher in the first chapter. But, in real life she was then taking her masters and wasn’t teaching at this school. What are the chances? Whether it’s art imitating life or life imitating art – I don’t know. But, suddenly I was no longer nervous.
I decided to talk to them about ‘Feedback,’ both giving and receiving. We talked about the importance of being open to suggestions and how no one writes perfectly on their first try. I was able to show them what my story looked like in the beginning and at various stages of its growth.
When asked, “Do you want me to read or do you want to get right to your writing?” One girl shouted “Write!”
And write they did. We started with a little warm up exercise to get their creative juices flowing. I said a sentence and then each student had to add to it. A few giggles were had as the story got larger and larger. Then I asked them to write for ten minutes. I provided several starter up sentences to help them in case they didn’t know what to write about. When we re- grouped each student read their work and we provided feedback. I was so proud of one little boy because when I had initially read his writing I gave him some feedback around the use of sounds. He took my advice and added some!
A grade six student moved me to tears with her descriptive writing of a personal experience. She asked me to sign her journal afterwards. I felt honoured to be able to once again tell her what a great writer she was.
I’m so thankful she has the opportunity to express herself with the written word, which can be healing, empowering and a pure joy to one’s soul.
How fortunate that these students discover the joy of writing at such an early age.
Having my first young adult novel, Maxed Out with Orca Publishers is symbolic to me – in that I was born in Victoria B.C. It seems appropriate that the ‘birth’ of my first story comes from my birth place. I feel very blessed.