2012 – Up and running

Posted by Nette on Feb 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


I don’t suppose there is any doubt about it – author visits and workshops are great fun, an excellent way to earn the bread-and-butter money, and they’re also hard-going. Having had a foot in both camps, both teacher and author, I can see the subtle differences that mean three sessions a day (with quick dashes from school to school in between) are equal to a hard days work. I mean, four sessions (without travel) is the max – and if you’re working four sessions a day for a week, trust me, ga-ga doesn’t say it by the end of that time. The difference, of course, is the performance. When teaching there is an ebb and flow to the day – I know, it might a full tide run out and continual turbulence but it is possible to direct the current. A performance is max-revs the whole time – and, as one group troops out the door and the next group enters, that performance has to be just as revved as the previous one. The stories that you just told one set of Year Ones, or Threes and Nines, has to be just as exciting and interesting and mind-blowing for next Year Ones or Threes or Nines. It helps if you’re a show-off – I am, I love making it up and bouncing around and foxing and trying to win everyone’s admiration and delight – but it comes at a cost. By the end of the day I do feel like something the cat sicked up – and I don’t really want to talk to anyone for a few hours. I just want to sit in my stunned state without disturbance.  How Madonna does it – dear old thing – I can’t even begin to imagine…she has my utmost respect.

So, the highlights are when it all works and last week, nine schools in three days, worked. In the first place it was exciting because the lovely teachers were ready for us and kids were primed and excited and dying to know all about books and what-the-hell you did to make them. Love it – love the questions about ‘how did you make the cover with that cardboard?’ and ‘how do you colour all the pictures’ (I’m the author doesn’t always gel). Schools in Armidale were delightful – Emmaville kids hopped in and were keen to make up stories all over the place. Newling kindies, bless them, only at school a week were entranced and so happy to join in with story making. Glen Innes, you lovelies – a whole glorious old hall full to brim with children – and didn’t we make it rain! Each school had such beautiful children – happy and so willing to have a go. Congrats to all who work with them – you really do deserve a great big hug! And more money!

Another great aspect of this week’s work was the inclusion of other authors. Writing is a solitary work, a quiet place or a shambling around place where you think and plan and make notes of bits of paper. When the opportunity exists to meet up with and share your work and worries and paranoia with other authors it’s a true treat. Nobody knows the horror of discovering that your latest idea has already been done by the latest JKRowling like another writer or illustrator. They know – and they can wallow down there with you in the misery because they’ve been there. It’s such an enlightening time as well, sharing stories and finding out how others work – messy desks and strange rituals make great dining out stories – and help enormously to let you feel that you’re not quite so odd after all – perhaps?

For me one of the greatest bonuses is being acknowledged as an author. By the time I get home I’m recharged and ready to take on new books, ideas, tasks that I might have been ready to dismiss as unworthy. It does that – working with children, young adults and adults who want to journey into the wonderful unknown of stories and imagination. And it’s humbling when you are recognized as someone who can open the doors for them and invite them in.

So, to Armidale, Glen Innes, Emmaville, Stephen and Sophie, thanks for a great week.

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