On Thursday 8th September 2016 I completed my first author workshop with students at Ridgeway High School, Birkenhead.
As a writer I love to sit and get my ideas down on paper or a laptop, but I have started to feel that this isn’t all I want to do. And it has taken a huge life change for me to realise it.
What caused this sudden change?
Plain and simple.
At some point between now and April 2018 I will be let go from my current job as a Payroll Administrator. It was a huge blow, but it made me think it was the perfect chance to start a change of careers. I enrolled on a Copywriter course within days, but I wanted to do more.
That’s where the author workshop comes in. After speaking to fellow author, Stuart Reid, my interest in visiting schools to talk to students about being a writer was very much piqued. Stuart’s the kind of guy who could resuscitate a fossil, and it lit a fire in my belly.
With the help of my partner, we constructed a workshop at home. I’ve spent hours talking to bare walls when I’ve been home alone and Elaine has heard my presentation more times than companions have said ‘It’s bigger on the inside‘ in Doctor Who’s entire run. So, there’s one big question…
How did the author workshop go?
From a personal standpoint, it went fantastically. I was nervous at the start, who wouldn’t be. I started with an introduction followed by readings with an interactive activity after each. The visit really kicked in during my second reading which was an extract from The Bachelor. This part was about characterisation and how to add depth to a character.
I had dreaded this part because it included me having to talk in the voice of my Bumpkinton character, Amelia Goose.
The kids seemed to love it. Yes, I was talking in a very posh way, elongating random words and generally making a prat of myself, but it relaxed to entire room. From then on the students were smiling and eager to join in. The time just flew by from there-on in.
I even threw in a late curve ball by giving away a Bumpkinton pen for the first person to tell me what happened next. I had all sorts of answers, they all joined in and finally one student got it correct.
Would I do it again?
Absolutely. Even though my books aren’t solely for children, the workshop is very much about making the students think about how to build a story, adding depth to their characters and explaining how to make sure there’s motivation behind a characters actions.
The time passed in no time at all and I could have chatted to the students for another hour. There are things I would change or swap around, but that’s the beauty of the workshop. It’s so flexible that I can shorten it for schools that have less time or lengthen it for those wanting a full day or half day.
It’s also made me want to push forward with my book for 8-12 year olds. This would help me get into Primary Schools and the content would appeal more to the age range I want to speak to.
I would like to thank Elaine, Rachel and Adam at Ridgeway High School for making the author workshop possible, but most of all, to the students involved for listening and taking part on the day.
I’ve got the bug and I am itching to get out there and do more!