Thursday, June 17, 2010
Book an adventure for a young writer you know
My recollection of her is a bit different. I feared her. Looking back, I think it's because she challenged me and in Grade 6 I wasn't up for the challenge. I worked my butt off in her class because she was the type of teacher who called your parents if you weren't meeting her expectations, but I held no illusion I'd ever become teacher's pet.
So imagine my fear when after Mrs. Kratky handed back a short story assignment, mine was absent a grade. Instead, she'd written these words: See me after school. Your parents have been invited.
I spent the rest of my day questioning everything about that story, cursing myself for not keeping a copy. Had I completed it? Chosen inappropriate content? Swore?
As it turns out, after reading my short story about a witch named Wanda, Mrs. Kratky felt compelled to encourage my parents to foster my love of literacy. She immediately enrolled me in a creative writing course for junior high students, where we did fun assignments like use the phone book to think of cool character names, or write paragraphs of dialogue without tags and description.
Until that day, I'd spent a good portion of my school days dreaming of being like my friend Kim. Even in elementary Kim possessed serious talent when it came to drawing and painting. Her work was plastered all over the school. It wasn't that I wanted to draw - though that would be cool - but I longed for a talent of SOME kind. Anything I could be excited about.
Mrs. Kratky gave me that inspiration, that initial spark of I-can-do-it attitude.
Over the years I've had some amazing mentors. Gary Braver, Steve Berry, James Rollins - three outstanding thriller writers who have molded my craft, boosted my confidence, fueled the belly fire first lit by my elementary school teacher. In a society where artists - literary or otherwise - are typical loners (and misunderstood), these mentors allowed me to "be me."
Which is one of the reasons I'm so proud to work for the Young Alberta Book Society and support Wordsworth, a camp for youth who like to write. For one week, participants have an opportunity to be mentored by amazing literary artists from across Alberta. Surrounded by their peers in picturesque Bragg Creek, AB, these kids are immersed in the arts - from writing stories and articles, to creating poetry in movement, learning the basics of cartooning, and the wonderment of performance.
It's a camp like no other I've ever seen.
I've attended many writer's conferences and am a true believer in peer bonding. I met many of my closest friends at these conferences - people I talk to almost every day.
The kids who attend WordsWorth experience this same camaraderie. They attend workshops by day - awesome, craft and confidence building sessions - and by night sing around a campfire (often songs they've written during camp) or review each other's work.
It's impossible to describe the magic of WordsWorth - it's just that amazing.
Do you know any young writers (ages 11-19) you think would be perfect for a literary camp? I'd encourage you to send them the link to the website (www.yabs.ab.ca) and check it out. Maybe you'd even like to sponsor a young writer?
The camp for the younger writers (11-14) runs July 4-9, 2010. The older camp (15-19) takes place July 11-19, 2010. Deadline for registrations is June 23, 2010.
I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.
The Book In My Bag Today: The Girl Who Played With Fire, Steig Larsson