My daughter’s school included me as a Career Day presenter and what a wonderful opportunity it was. A romance writer may not seem the most logical choice to talk to third, fourth, and fifth graders, but I spoke to three standing-room-only crowds of children curious about books. What a rush.
The school requested we bring tools of trade, wear our uniform and discuss what skills we learned in school that help in our profession. I wore shoes today, so I wasn’t in uniform, but I brought my trusty lap-top and a fine selection of books.
I asked the children what they thought I did. In all three presentations, they guessed I researched and wrote. Then I told them how much I edit. I held up pages bleeding red ink. I saw lots of wide eyes. Hopefully, they will remember to edit their own work. I mentioned querying, the act of hearing no many times before hearing yes.
We discussed the skills a writer needs. In every group, several students said writers have to be creative. I disagree to a certain extent. I think it is more important to have a curious mind. The writer’s creativity comes through in different ways to answer the questions of why, what if and why not.
I was surprised to learn that by fifth grade the students are learning about the author’s voice, but diagraming sentences is not part of the curriculum. They knew about plot and conflict, but not traditional grammar. I strongly suspect the future will hold many jobs for editors willing to whip young writers into shape.
The number of students who liked to write in their spare time encouraged me. Some were on their fourth or fifth book already. Others worried about writer’s block. A few wondered if I had free books to pass out to the class.
All in all, I enjoyed answering the variety of questions they posed. For all of the gloom and doom that future generations won’t want to read, the enthusiastic children brought me hope. I already have ideas how I can improve my presentation if I’m invited back again and I hope I will. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet so many creative and curious minds. To the kids I say, keep up the good work, be persistent and I can’t wait to put your books on my reading list.