With all due respect to Thomas Wolfe, sometimes you CAN go home again. On March 6 I had the experience of returning to Pottstown, Pennsylvania, the town in which I grew up, to do an author visit at Franklin Elementary School. I shared poems and the draft of my latest picture book manuscript with the younger children. With the older students, I conducted writing workshops and got them started on some poems of their own.
As I told the students, I dreamed of being an author from the time I was 8 years old. In fact, I wrote my first “novel” when I was in second grade at Washington Elementary School—a 20-page story called “Tubby the Pig on the Moon.” I must admit that I felt a certain amount of pride going back to my hometown as a well-published author able to say that my dream had come true.
I liked seeing the kids’ eyes light up when they heard a poem of mine that they enjoyed. I LOVED seeing their eyes light up when they proudly read the poems they created during free writing time. I wish I’d had the opportunity to meet a “real live author” when I was growing up, and it meant a lot to me to be able to provide such an experience for this generation of budding Pottstown authors.
The visit also recharged my batteries for my current children’s writing. I’ve been so wrapped up in consulting work and writing newspaper and magazine articles for adults that I haven’t focused on my children’s books for several months. Sharing my books in a school setting reminded me I need to carve out time to get back to that.
I’ve got another school visit in Pottstown next month, as well as one here in Newark. It will be fun to work with young writers in both my old hometown and my current hometown. I’m glad that sometimes you can go home again.
Random Writing Thought: There’s often a real sense of delayed gratification in writing. Last fall, two of my more interesting projects were articles on student activism for Teaching Tolerance magazine and amazing animals for National Geographic Kids. As a writer, you turn in articles and move on to other projects, and the articles fade into your subconscious…until they appear. Both articles came out this past week, and it was great to see them. You can access the Teaching Tolerance article here: http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-41-spring-2012/awareness-action.