October 25, 2011

Winning & Losing & Camping


The saga continues.  I spend a lot of time thinking.  I’m constantly planning what to do to get to the next part in a book.  Lately I’ve been able to do more talking about the writing than I've done in the past.  I visited an elementary school in Dexter, Michigan and an African American Literature class at Eastern Michigan University.  Each experience was unique and different. 
Today I managed to go to the office twice.  In my younger years I would not been excited about going to the office, but this is different.  I visited Mrs. Vujic’s sixth grade class at Dickinson West Elementary in Hamtramck, Michigan.  Once I entered the room, another teacher’s classroom joined us and I talked to them about Winning and Losing.  We spoke about following your dreams and believing in yourself.  I was excited to be there and present portions of my experiences with them.  They were able to hear a background story that is associated with The Misunderstanding of Alexander the Grate.  They asked important questions about what I write and my target audience.  Then they asked for my autograph.  Yes, my autograph. 

There’s a certain tingle that I get when a young person from my target audience looks at my present situation and predicts my future.  It seems like they are able to look into my dreams and we can see the same things.  This entire process is very humbling because they are seeing me, my talent, and my name as being valuable.  Knowing my books aren’t in stores, I politely declined the signing requests by telling about their attempts to get my autograph early in case I actually do become famous.  We laughed, but they were serious.  Pens and composition books ready for my signature… Serious.

At the end of my visit, I was invited back to speak to them.  I plan to return before Winter Break, if they have determined values that they bring to the community.   I believe they will get there.
My next stop was at Denby High School in Detroit, Michigan.  The energy in the building was buzzing when I arrived.  The first group I spoke to was a class of young men.  About ten of us gathered around in a circle and had a more mature conversation about winning and losing.  Then we spoke about what they needed in their classroom to make things easier for them to have success.  Peace, patience, and respect were very common words that they used to express what would help them to become a better community.  I tried to get them to see that they had many of the tools they needed to be successful, but they needed to work together to accomplish their goals as a team. 

My final stop was in an English class that heard a story about my writing and where I get some of my inspiration.  Some of the students shared their future goals and spoke about people that inspired them.  One student allowed me to read a poem she wrote to the rest of the class.  It was a wonderful opportunity to see her form of expression and share it with the rest of the room. I used it as a way to encourage them to share their talents with each other. 

I never know what I’m going to get see when I go into schools.  The students might not want to hear from some strange guy that happens to have something to say.  I might sound like another teacher preaching in their ears.  I might sound like another adult that thinks I know it all.  I might sound like the person that has come to plant/water the seeds of their success.  I don’t know.  Yet, I do know that rooting for the youth to succeed is something that I enjoy doing.  And, hearing my name over the P.A. system for something positive is also rewarding.  I look forward to coming back and talking to those classes before Winter Break.
When I finally made it home and to the couch, all I wanted to do was relax and replay the events of the day.  Talking about writing was my focus for the entire day.  Coming home and actually doing some writing wasn’t a priority.  However, if I do plan on finishing within the next week, I had to do something.

Camped out at the kitchen table, I turned on the laptop and opened up Word.  I selected Outkast’s Ova da Wudz instrumental and began working on how to put a major piece of the puzzle in place.  This part could take 2 paragraph or10 pages, but no matter how long it was, it needed to really fit perfectly.  I realized I couldn’t write my way around it and leave this part for the imagination of the reader.  I also realized that I did not need to stretch out this serious section of writing.  It took about four pages of internal thought and dialouge for Wrinkles to work his way through this section.  I even managed to sneak and rhyme one of the paragraphs.  I wonder if the reader will recognize it when they read it the first time. 
One major item has been removed from the list.

Thanks for reading.


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