Did I say last time that I wasn’t keeping up with my blogging schedule? Did I say that I had started trying to set some priorities?
Who was I trying to fool?
Mostly myself, I guess.
...in my dreams...
Have you ever heard the saying about what is urgent is seldom important? I somehow managed to reach the stage where I had some important things that had become urgent as well. This resulted in my recent school holidays being turned into a race to finalise a course I (or two) I was presenting for the Writers Centre on the last weekend of the break, whilst still recovering from a rather full on term. I was also taking a much needed trip to visit with my gorgeous family in Queensland in the middle of it, and slipping in a school visit while I was there.
Writing? Not so much. Not fiction, anyway... nor, as may be obvious, my blog(s).
I will say, though, that the opportunity to work with other writers at different stages of their journey is always inspiring, so I do not, in any shape or form, have anything negative to say about the days I spent prettying up my notes for the courses I was presenting.
And I love prettying up notes!
Recently, I’ve been converted to using Google Docs as a workspace for putting things together. I started using it at school for collaborative documents, but discovered the joy of a platform I can use on my desktop computer (which is Linux) and my laptop (which is Windows), and I can pull up a document wherever I am – so long as I have access to wifi.
Once finished I can then export to various other formats, such as PDF or Powerpoint.
... slide from one of my presentations...
I’m not using it for my stories at this stage – most of that happens on my laptop in Word at present – but the course notes and presentations were easily put together, then modified and exported into attractive documents with some really lovely fonts. I also love how quick and easy it is to search for and incorporate free-to-use images.
I had fun (whilst working my butt off) redesigning the presentation of Characters that Count for a young audience, finishing off Descriptions that Delight, and taking the notes I had for To Plot or Not To Plot and sculpting them into the course I wanted to present.
I already knew that Characters that Count was on the right track, as I had presented that to an adult crowd at the Writers Centre the year before with some success, but had taken away from the feedback that the course notes (good old Powerpoint Notes) were too difficult to read, so I had already rewritten the course notes and turned them into a little work booklet. I just needed to tighten up the presentation and consider the breakdown of the day to suit kids aged 9 to 11. I was also aware that this was Day 4 of a four day camp for them, so I wanted to keep it light and fun.
The second course, directed once more at grown-ups, and born of a request from one of the course participants the year before, I had already completed most of the course notes for, but just needed to transfer them to Docs, tidy them up and include some activity pages to create a work book.
The content was focusing on descriptive writing, looking at the work of some well known writers and different strategies to achieve that all important show-don’t-tell, providing just enough to stimulate the imagination of the reader without getting bogged down in oodles of description that might slow the plot down. I then created a screen presentation.
...a picture to inspire some descriptive writing...
To Plot or Not To Plot was then brought to life from a handful of notes and references I had been collecting, looking at four highly successful authors with very different styles of plotting – a fascination of mine, as I am always interested in how other people think and work. I then related all this back to my own style and promoted the writers’ courses and resources so that attendees could go and explore further the ideas that appealed to them.
I managed to get the workbooks all completed and ready to go just in time to email them off to the Writers Centre to be copied before jumping on the plane to Queensland.
However, had I not, I would have been able to continue work whilst up north.
As it was I had time to spend with my family (love, love, love), do the school visit (yay! fun) and enjoy the warmer weather before heading back down in time to present the courses.
And – wow! – was that great or what? The kids really blew my socks off with their focus, talent, and enthusiasm – especially given that it was the end of a week-long adventure in text for them, with the amazing Kaaron Warren, Tracey Hawkins, and Jack Heath having worked them hard over the preceding three days.
...not the actual kids... just a random free image
to illustrate the enthusiasm displayed....
Over the weekend I then taught a small, but highly engaged class about descriptive writing, some of whom also came along the following day to look at plotting with me as part of a slightly larger but equally intense group. The funny part of that was that the projector at the Writers Centre decided to die the death, so I ended up teaching from the workbook, sparing them my Powerpoints! It all seemed to work out well, though, and I wouldn’t have missed it for quids. Good thing I’d taken on board about the improvements to the take home notes!
...and an equally random picture of a projector... probably working quite adequately...
I love sharing what I have picked up along the way, and I always learn from others, too, and am humbled by the amazing writers out there, all eager to extend their knowledge and add to their skills.
But the long and the short of it is, there wasn’t time for much else, and now I’m back at school, and for the next little while the biggest writing job I have is going to be report writing... although I did have some super fun at a Hogwarts camp last weekend, working with yet another group (or two) of energetic youngsters as they brainstormed, wrote and designed their very own editions of The Daily Prophet.
...two workshops and four editions... one for each House...
with due reference to JK Rowling....
You know what, though? I think I’m ready for a holiday...