Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How my former students are inspiring this novel

When I taught 9-12th grade, art was important but I was also sensitive to what the needs of the students were on an emotional level. Yes, the needed a grade, but when they needed a mental health day they knew they could use my art period to regroup.

I will never forget the day a 10th grade boy, the star football player, came in flushed with bloody knuckles. He respectfully sat in his seat breathless and agitated as the other students filed in. I know he was expecting me to draw attention to him, tell him to get over it and get to work. Instead, I got the class started and quietly walked over and told him he could take a walk to the bathroom, clean himself up and gather his thoughts - as long as there was no more "trouble" involved. When he came back with no incident and thanked me with a look and nod of his head when he left with the bell, I knew I had made the right call.

Later that year I got an early morning call alerting me to an impromptu crisis meeting before school. The popular football player had hung himself in his basement the night before... my heart broke. R.I.P. Jeremy

THESE ARE THE KIDS WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO TOUCH! There are too many stories like this!

You would think after years of editors telling me that my ideas were too big for picture books I would have considered writing a novel. Now, I DID consider it but I worried I would get "writer's ADD" and not finish it.

I had no idea I would be as passionate for the characters in my head as I was for my high school students. I was/am quite attached to my picture book characters but their existence is mere minutes. A novel character comes with a past, lives the present and aspires to what the future brings.

Back to characters are waiting!


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