Me in the first lesson: This term we are going to write BOOKS! Full chapter books!
Students: Wow! This is so exciting.
Students by term two of working on their books: Wow. This is so hard.
Me: You haven't even gotten to editing yet.
Nevertheless, it's been an exceptionally fun journey. It's always great fun talking a group of people as excited about Freytag's Pyramid as you ("Miss Willemse! I know this part of the story! It's the inciting incident!") even if they don't know the difference between punctuation and pronunciation ("Miss Willemse, to write good stories, we have to be great at pronunciation, don't we?" Me: "Is it going to be an audiobook??"). The advantage of teaching children rather than adults is that children have the spontaneity to come up with a book idea in literally ten minutes. They also have infinitely more time to write, which was why I started writing my first book at ten years of age. Additionally, they're less conformist than most adults.
Me: What are some of the main distractions that can keep us from writing?
Students: Flies in our drinks. My brother dancing like a beast. Pancakes on the ceiling.
Me: Do all these things happen on a regular basis?
Students: Yes, Miss Willemse.
It's also quite interesting seeing how politically incorrect children are. Passages like
BAM! BOOF! The principal hit me on the ribs, the eyes, and the skull. Lights flashed around me.
are actually more common than you think. One of the most delightful passages occurred in an eight chapter book one of the boys had written. It was hooking stuff - a villain that can summon hundreds of skeletons from the ground at her command, a sword of witchcraft, and a band of orphans hunting it. Then one of the boys asked the villain how she got her magical staff.
Villain: I found it.
Boy: Oh, was that the staff you were talking about back in chapter three?
I couldn't stop laughing about this, because while it was charming, such interruptions to the classic suspension of belief in a story are typically not allowed. But certainly, it would be much simpler if the characters could ask themselves: did that happen in the chapter two? Oh yes - I met you in chapter five, didn't I? You're that bloke from chapter seven, right?
While I'm an antisocial creature, I do often keep writing because the people around me inspire me to do so. These children are no exception.