SOL 3/20 A Slice from the Literature Festival

  20 of 31 for the Slice of Life Challenge from Two Writing Teachers
Yesterday I traveled to Warrensburg, MO with my oldest to the Literature Festival.  She was so proud that she made it again this year...and was the first in our school to read all of the required books to qualify to go!  As a language arts teacher, I usually try to read as many of the Mark Twain award nominees as possible so I can recommend them to students, but I have really slacked this year for some reason. Finding time to read anything is difficult, even though I love curling up with a book (or Nook or my tablet) to read. I have truly appreciated the many slicers who have posted reading recommendations, and my pile of books to read has grown exponentially. John Green is my current go-to author--A Fault in our Stars. Next up is Paper Towns or Looking for Alaska. I love his use of vocabulary and writes with humor and wit, which I appreciate. I hope my students would appreciate that as well.

We were assigned to see Roland Smith, Judith Fradin, Alane Ferguson,  Antony John, and Dorinda Nicholson.

 I saw Roland Smith last year, and was entertained by his stories of writing and his family.  This year, not so much.  Every slide, every word, every joke was exactly the same.  As one of my students said, "Deja vu!"  I guess I'd expect authors who frequented the literature festival often to mix up their presentations so that the audiences did not predict what the next word would be.  I hope that my students listened as he talked about writing what you know, and how research happens and looks like before a book is started.  Tentacles by Roland Smith

Alane Ferguson was very funny, and the kids loved her.  I haven't read her books, but I will find The Christopher Killer and read it.  I've never been too into the sci-fi genre, but she made the book intriguing.  We did find her newest book and purchased that, but all of her others were snapped up when we got to the book sale.  One of her statements to the kids today was that she considers herself "The Writing Doctor"- she "stitches, sews, and does" when it comes to words. I used a similar metaphor with my kids as far as editing and revision.  Revision is the plastic surgery of writing.  A writer needs to cut the piece apart, move things around, add, subtract, and make the piece a new piece that looks different than the original draft.  Editing, then, is the final polish, or the "make-up" of the piece.  It is what makes the piece pretty and ready for publication. 

Antony John was the most interesting author I heard.  Maybe it was the English accent he had too...I'm a sucker for that. His main message to the kids was the constructive criticism is one of the most important parts of writing (next to revision of course). Having the ability to find an editor you can trust and someone who will tell you the truth when it comes to writing is an important part of his job.  He also explained how he started as a musician who only spoke to others through music and ended up discovering he loved words as well.  He explained how he created a "writing world" for his books, so that the story could come to life. His book Five Flavors of Dumb will be on my to-read list too. The biggest thing he wanted kids to do is to never stop asking "What if?" I also loved that he told the kids to go home and read The Outsiders TONIGHT...it is THAT GOOD! I love that book.

Overall, it was a good day of listening and learning for me.  I love hearing authors talk about their process when writing.  I love hearing them tell the kids that the first draft is not it for them- they keep working and working and working.  I hope that the kids take something away from this day, and file the lessons away for writing workshop time.  I know I will.











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