Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"The Author Speaks" (or "How to Drive Dozens of Young Innocents into the Pit of Despair")

The author offers words of wisdom to prospective young writers: "I hear there's a lot of money
to be made servicing HVAC systems." (Photo by Stephen Varsi)

My good friend and educator par excellence, Suzy Albanese, recently invited me to speak on the subject of writing to her English and Creative Writing classes at Greensboro's Piedmont Classical High School. Now, I'm always honored when someone considers me worthy of sharing some wit and wisdom to a class full of impressionable young minds, but I will admit to having some trepidation about the prospect, for at various times in the past, I have taught and/or given presentations to human people of all age groups, from elementary school through college. It's not always pretty. There was that nine-year-old girl in a class at the local art center many years ago whose dad was a lawyer, and she assured me that he would sue the pants off me if I made her complete any assignment she didn't consider fun. To this day, I'm not sure how I managed to keep my pants. On the other hand, when I taught an art course for adults at a community college once long ago, one of my students turned out to be my toughest high school English teacher, and the payback was sweet delight. As often as not, though, I've had to nurse that continual worry about losing my pants, particularly when the students are of junior high to high-school age.

Happily, this most recent adventure rendered my concerns moot, for the crew of students attending my (totally improvised) talk proved intelligent, attentive, courteous, and personally engaging. (I suspect they have some good teachers and — clearly — more than a dash of home training.) Many of them were able to converse knowledgeably about not only the fundamentals of writing in general but about horror in particular. Now, some of them might have been disappointed to learn that I do not hang out regularly with Stephen King, or live in a huge haunted house overlooking an ancient graveyard, or write a bestseller every night so I might travel the world in luxury, but no one appeared to be discouraged from diving into the pit and exploring the various shadowy corridors of their own creative minds. Try as I might, I don't believe I convinced anyone to abandon their literary aspirations for more secure and exhilarating adventures in the world of certified public accountancy. More's the pity, for surely we need more accountants; I certainly do come tax time.

At the end of the scheduled talk, several of the students came to converse with me one-on-one, which I must say I appreciated. All in all, I came out of the school with a bit more faith in at least some members of the younger generation than I had going in.

Thank you, Mrs. Albanese, for the experience was a pleasure.
These young folks are actually listening and taking notes, not fiddling with their phones.
C'est magnifique! (Photo by Stephen Varsi)


SAlbanese said...

Thank you for coming to talk to the students in my and Gwen Staunton's classes! We talked a bit this morning after a week off for Spring Break. They enjoyed getting to know you and learning about your career.

I have to apologize for not giving credit where it's due. Stephen Varsi took the pictures during your presentation. I forgot to give him the proper credit.

SAlbanese said...

Thank you for coming to talk to our students! We returned from Spring Break today, and we talked about your visit. Everyone expressed enthusiasm for your comments and insights.

I have to apologize for not giving proper credit for the photos. Stephen Varsi took the pictures.