School visits can be disheartening occasions. I’ve been to schools where my visit wasn’t in the diary and ‘my’ class had gone on a day out, where even the teacher introducing me didn’t know my name, where no one had read any of my books or appeared interested in them . . . BUT thankfully those times are rare.
I visited Clifton College Prep school recently and had a lovely morning. The sea of eager, bright faces all staring at me as the children filed into the hall was inspiration in itself. Seeing them I desperately wanted to deliver and provide them with the best and most inspiring talk ever and to then follow it up with a book, so readable and exciting, they wouldn’t want to put it down. I wanted to SHINE for them.
The thing is, for a writer, getting out and actually seeing and meeting your audience is inspiring in itself. I spend most days in my office at home, working. Of course I allow myself out ta bit, but now my boys are grown up, there aren’t many children in the house. I can forget just how bubbly and enthusiastic and interesting children are. And funny.
During my talk I showed the year 5s my list of mis-spelt hiding places for the secrets I had cherished when I was a child myself. Almost every word on my list is wrongly spelt. One line reads ‘Under the corsh.’ I asked the children what they thought I could possibly have meant by this and got the usual answers of ‘couch’, ‘cushion’ and ‘cot’. I’m not sure if a child from any school other than Clifton would have come up with this, but a sweet boy on the front row suggested ‘Under the Porsche.’
If only. And how charming.
Please invite me to your school soon!