10 June 2015
Last week was the 25th year of Success Beyond the Classroom’s annual YOUNG AUTHORS CONFERENCE here in the Twin Cities, and I’ve been there for all 25. Once again, eager young writers (grades 4-8) from across the metro area rolled into the classroom and knocked me out. What a joy to see kids toting around their favorite books and engaging in excited conversations with new friends who like the same author, rather than hunched over a screen wishing they were somewhere else.
When we wrote, all the heads bent over the page; all the hands kept moving. In my sessions, we were exploring ways to get stories rolling quickly—“Starting on the Run,” to quote the session title. We wrote, stopped and read, injected new ideas, and wrote again. Rinse and repeat—but each repetition built the spiral of creativity stronger and higher. Work those narrative modes; vary the point of entrance into the story; reverse the point of view . . .
After one session, a boy insisted on staying behind (missing lunch) so that he could read me—expressively, with each character in their own voice—yet another segment of his growing story line. After another, a tiny little girl peered at the copies of my own books laid out on a table, and then launched a discussion about whether she should save some of her ideas for her second book, or put everything she had into the first one.
We had kids in suit coats and in hijabs; in tattered shoes and color-coordinated lace dresses with Doc Martens. There were shy, silent types and loud, obvious rebels. To my knowledge, none were carrying guns (never a sure thing these days, what with the absurd conceal & carry laws)—but they all carried a valuable weapon in their pockets: the mighty pen, ready to take on however many swords you care to throw their way.
Can’t wait to see this bunch in action in the future.
**A tip of the cap to Gina Jacobson, Cathy MacDonald, & all the SBC staff & board—whose flair and attention to detail permeate all their endeavors.**
Daniel – you are a treasured gem! I salute you and all your years of sharing your enthusiasm and gifts with YAC writers. :oD onna
Daniel, you were on board from the beginning of YAC and it is with deep gratitude that I salute you for all of the inspiration and encouragement that you gave us. And, the students that you have inspired is a gift to beyond measure!
Thanks, Marilyn & Donna! Your own wondrous organizing efforts played a key role in helping to make the Young Authors Conference what it is today.
Danirl, you are an inspiration to me, to SBC, and to thousands of writers young and old. For 25 years you’ve shared your enthusiasm and talent with our young writers-with respect, admiration and oftentimes awe for what surfaces in their writing. You are an excellent teacher. Thank you for two and a half decades of service and for the endless amount of support and praise you’ve passed along to thousands of young voices. Hats off to you!