Sixteen students from year 7 to year 12 came to the first meeting of the writers’ group today. We met at lunchtime and introduced ourselves. Hearing the students talk about themselves as writers was very interesting: the kind of things they wrote, including play-scripts, novels, short stories, fanfiction, songs, articles, reviews and poetry. One girl is writing the second draft of a novel and she is in Year 8. I had asked them to bring something of their writing to read out and that was very successful, with genuine appreciation of each others’ writing. Some students had not heard of fanfiction before so they explained it to each other. One girl explained it thus: “when I read the last novel in the Deltora’s Quest series I started to cry, ‘cos I didn’t want it to end. That’s when I found fanfiction.” We will be meeting fortnightly and one of the girls asked for a theme to write something about before then. They chose the theme of “Time.” Can’t wait to see what they will make of it. Then I came back to my desk to find a voicemail message about one of the students in the group: she is runner up in a Young Journalist of the year competition and will get a trophy. How good is that!? Many of these students have been writing since primary school, and have won competitions. Some have had poems published. Some said they had loved reading as a child but others had come late to writing and had started reading after their interest in writing developed. But for all of them it is a part of their identity. It was an enjoyable way for me to spend a lunchtime.
Speaking of reading, I had a great moment in Year 9 today when a student who had told me at the start of the independent novel assignment that she would not be able to do it as there was never any books she liked and she had never read a “chapter book”, was reading Being Bindy avidly. She said, “I found one, I finally found a book I like.”