Being an author – International book day

Last week Conrad was invited to talk about being an author, how he started, what it entails, and how do authors make money. It was money week at the International school. 

Today is international book day and I was invited to Jackie’s class to share about my experience as a book author. 

This class loves to read, mostly tanks to the teacher who inspired and challenged them to read. She provided books for their reading level and interests and if you are surrounded by book worms you become one too. Kids influence each other like that. 

I asked them why do they read. And then why do they think people write books. Books are an artistic expression, said one of them. Books are friends, and mirrors and therapists and teachers. Books can provide an escape and are enjoyable for the mind. 

The teacher has given them many writing assignments over time. They got to wrote stories about their vacations or those special weeks they have in school. They even got summer journals. (Of all my speaking engagements, I knew this audience the best. I know them by name, I know their passions, skills, interests, clicks, I know their parents. I had an advantage knowing them so well).

I taught them a new word: cathartic, which is a type of soul purification through an art form. Some people sing, others paint, and others write. And offloading one’s heart in writing is cathartic definitely. That is why people journal.

As a kid my journal was pathetic. I wrote pathetic things, especially when I liked boys. I would not find any value in others reading the crap I wrote as a teen. Except for my prayers. Everything I talked about with God I find fascinating, endearing, honest. We feel closest to God when we tell the truth, and you can tell the truth even when you write fiction, because the emotions you envision and process for the caraters are true. 

I talked about the practical aspects of writing and the two types of writers: those who take an idea and go wherever the idea might lead. The other type of writers are mire structured, They create the outline and fill in the blanks with content. Both are valid. It’s up to the creative person to follow their path. 

Many people are involved in the process but before one even creates a manuscript, the writer might write and rewrite many parts and chapters. They were aghast that a writer might write a long chapter with hundreds of words and when she would reread it would find it to be useless, confusing, and not like it. Even if it pains her, she throws that chapter away. Or rewrites a character or rewrites the ending of the book all together.

It is painful to be ruthless with your work but it would be more painful to leave parts that are confusing to read for all the future readers. 

They were curious where the inspiration comes from. And I told them every good writer has read and read and read many books. That is how one develops a good vocabulary and start to define their own style or passion. When I read good books I get inspired to write my own stories.

It is fascinating and sounds glamorous to write. And many writers write to make the world a better place by creating art, by being vulnerable, by sharing what they learned, by creating teachable characters. Sometimes we accept the truth when it is not told to our face, but it is told in a book, through a story. 

As I engaged with the class for half a hour, Jackie smiled from her seat.

She figured out I’m going to talk in her class only this morning. She told me not to embarrass her. But I think I charmed and entertained her colleagues well enough. How could I not?

I looked them in the eye, I engage, I connected with them. They are smart and polite kids and it was a pleasure to talk with them. I don’t think I embarrassed Jackie and secretly she was proud of me.