My students know that I’m a writer. The last week of NaNoWriMo is crunch time, and with December looming and fifteen thousand words between me and the fifty thousand word goal, I was getting desperate, squeezing in a few hundred words here, a page or two there during my lunch break. Some of my library regular saw me, and immediately bombarded me with questions: “What’s it about?” “Who is the main character?” “Can we read it?”
I told them it was about ghosts, the main character is a young widow, and no, you can’t read it. I was too embarrassed about the sloppiness of my handwriting… and my prose. So one of the girls kindly offered to loan me her personal copy of Writer’s Digest Guide to Good Writing during the editing stage.
I left my manuscript at home today, but I’ve already started a new story, and they were begging to read that, too. I like this story better, so I let them read a page from my notebook, the opening to a Sleeping Beauty retelling starring two mischievous twins. Five students clustered around my desk to share my notebook, and after that glimpse at my story, students were eager to share their own ideas: a story about a girl who finds out that she’s secretly a direct descendent of Leonardo da Vinci, a fantasy epic about a girl who can talk to animals who is adopted by the good queen but is secretly the daughter of the evil queen.
These were my usual suspects, and their enthusiasm during snack time brought over curious visitors, just there to drop off an overdue book or swap it out for something new to read. By the end of their twenty minute recess, I had copied out the URL for the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Project onto several sticky notes and had students asking me to run a Camp NaNoWriMo club in April 2015.
When I told them I finished my story over the weekend, one student said to me, “I hope it’s a best seller.” Another asked, “Can it be a 2016 Sakura Medal book?” Their excitement motivated me to keep writing, even when I was sick, even when I was slogging through. I want to give them back the same faith and enthusiasm, and the time and space to tell their own stories.