An Interesting Opportunity

I got a very interesting email today from my editor. Most of our email exchanges have to do with my writing, as you might expect, but we’re old friends from high school, so sometimes we email just to catch up and ask each other why we haven’t hung out in months.

This morning, she emailed me to say she would be teaching a creative writing class this year — she teaches high school English — and she wanted to know if I would come in to talk to her kids.

Holy shit.

To be fair, this didn’t come as a complete surprise to me. She had mentioned before that it would be cool to have me as a guest speaker in one of her classes. I was also vaguely aware that she was trying to get a creative writing club going at her school, so I’m really happy she got a full class dedicated to it.

However, the last time we talked about this was months ago (probably the last time we talked) when she was giving my short fantasy series a once-over. I told her I was definitely interested and to let me know. Nothing came of it for a while, so I forgot all about it.

Now, I just need to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to tell a bunch of high schoolers about writing.

Brainstorming Time!

First of all, I’ve never been able to connect with teenagers. Even as a teenager, I stuck with my close group of friends and otherwise tried to keep a low profile in high school. When my own younger cousins — with whom I’ve always had close relationships — were teenagers, I had trouble connecting with them.

So the first question that came to mind with that email was: what could I possibly tell a group of high-schoolers about writing that they’d actually listen to/appreciate?

I have a few ideas, but I pressed my editor for more context. She’s having these students participate in NaNoWriMo this year, so that’s one avenue I could follow.

Some potential topics off the top of my head:

  • Not being intimidated by big word count goals (50k for NaNo)
  • Staying motivated through the grind and writing out of habit, rather than “inspiration”
  • Preparing to write a freakin’ novel
  • Building an online author presence vs. privacy
  • The self-publishing process in general

Those are all topics I would have found interesting — or still would, actually — if I were attending a writing talk or whatever.

It might be cool to make it a point that I’d be joining in their NaNo efforts come November, so we could connect on the site and see each other’s progress, etc. I wasn’t planning on really doing NaNo this year, but if these kids are excited about it and want the support, then I’m all for it.

I’m on the fence about how structured I want to be. Surely it will depend on the topic, but I get the sense that walking into a high school classroom with a bunch of kids who have no idea who I am and pulling out a powerpoint presentation will induce eye-rolls and immediate pulling out of phones.

That’s definitely not what I want. If I could have a more open discussion with them, I think that would be way more beneficial for all involved.

I have much pondering to do over this.

Anyway, I don’t know why, but this opportunity coming up now, unexpectedly, seems pretty fitting. I’m genuinely excited. I’ll probably feel nervous once we actually confirm a date, but for right now, this is really cool.

Steve D

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