Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's a good thing that...

* I have tough skin

* Enjoy speaking with young kids

* Understand that the teen group mentality is only as intimidating as you allow it

I went to speak in the Teen Room of the Boys and Girls Club of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County yesterday. It reminded me why I never went into teaching.

Just joking.

Well, not really.

The group was much larger than I expected and surprisingly enough, the majority were boys.

The Coordinator, before asking me to come in, indicated that many of the kids were interested in writing. But ah, the kids pretty much made a liar of him. Because when I asked how many of them were interested in writing, maybe two raised their hands. When I asked who enjoyed reading, about four raised their hands - none of them girls.

Geez, tough room for So Not The Drama.

But I wasn't there talking about the book. I was talking about writing and how powerful words are.

Still, when one little boy said he had no "use" for reading, it was a crystal moment of clarity regarding how the young mind works.

It's very very engaged in the moment at hand and often unable to analyze (or even explain) broad sweeping statements.

When I engaged him re: so how do you acquire information if you never read. He pointed out the internet.

Ummm...yes, don't you read websites?

He said, not all of them. Some have audio.

Alrighty then.

But that's the thing. I've worked with kids my entire career. Ironically, never in a paid position, which is why I've probably enjoyed it so much. No matter what I've done professionally, I've always volunteered in some capacity with youth. So I'm used to their colorful, if somewhat flawed logic.

I'm rarely shook by their candid observations and off-handed insight.

It leads me to suggest, to my fellow writers, if school visits are in your future to a group older than ten years old, get your verbal sparring gloves out. Kids love to test you. And I truly believe that old cliche, they can smell fear a mile away.

Ask any mild-mannered substitute teacher.

I asked the group if any of them were interested in going to college and about seven or so raised their hands. So as I'm talking about the importance of being able to articulate who you are via a college app and/or essay, one boy asked did I attend college.

ME: Yes. Why do you ask?

HIM (voice of petulant challenge): Well, you asking us if we're going and what not?

ME: No, I didn't ask if you were going. I asked if anyone was interested in going. But yup, I went to college, graduated too.

See, they live for that. He was trying to "catch" me wrong. But that's the beauty of being a kid. You're so self-involved you forget that 9 out of 10 adults is actually smarter than you, though you don't believe so.

And he saw the difference in his sentence vs. mine. His scrunched up face of defeat told me so.

Overall, the kids were mostly fidgety and only half-interested.

I didn't take it personally.

It was 4:30.

They'd been in school all day and now were being asked to sit and listen some more.

The B&G Club is usually their time for a little structured unstructured time.

So you know, unless I was going to pull a few big heads out of my pocket and start handing them out, keeping their attention was going to be a challenge from jump.

By the end, the group of 20+ had dwindled to half that. I ended up with about six in a small circle and had the closest thing to a more focused discussion than the entire presentation had been.

Throughout the thirty minutes I was there, the ARC of So Not The Drama was being circulated around the room. I saw kids reading it (always a good thing) and some just flipping through (never a bad thing).

One, a boy, said he liked it. I was surprised because I've always been curious how male readers will take DRAMA.

One, a girl, asked if she could have a copy. But it was clear she was asking for the novelty of having the book, not for the sake of reading it.

I tell you, I'm not sure how much more of this glamorous rock star author life I can take. Keep this up and my head may explode from all the adoration.


Shout out to the Boys & Girls Club. You guys are wild!


Blogger Don Tate II said...

Sounds like a good experience. Speaking to that age group is always a blast.

10:12 PM


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