Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hi, My Name is Allie, and I'm a Writer

Hi, everyone ~ I'm back! (This is me waving hello...)

I've been away for a few days, out in the city of Cleveland while my husband was attending a conference. Since I used to live there in the mid-90s, I had 2 days to myself to play and visit old haunts and, best of all, catch up with a couple of friends.

One, in particular, is a woman I met at my very first teaching job. She's teaching a 3-week intensive summer creative writing class to middle schoolers (6th-9th graders)...and since I was in town, she asked me if I would speak to her students. "...you know, since you're a writer and you have two novels under your belt."

Gulp.

She says this to me, by the way, on the phone 12 hours before we're supposed to get together for lunch. Here's the conversation:

Friend That I Love: "I know you were going to come by for lunch, but I was thinking, maybe you could come early and talk to my students?"

Me: "Um. Sure."

Friend That I Love: "We've been talking about the writing process, and I thought you could just tell them about yours, let them see what a real writer looks like."

Me: "Um. Sure."

Friend That I Love: "How long do you think you want to speak? Because we can stop whatever we're doing when you come in."

Me: "Um..."

And thus was the introduction to my very first speaking gig as a writer. Let me tell you, if you think perfecting a pitch for an agent or editor is tough, think about preparing it for a roomful of 12 year olds. Even though I'm a teacher, and used to getting up in front of students and talking, this was really, really different. This was the first time I called myself "a writer" out loud, in public, for the world to hear.

It was terrifying.

It was exhilarating.

It was exhausting.

30 minutes, and I was done. But they were cute, and fun, and interested, and I had a chance to tell them not only what I write but some of the things I've learned along the way.

What an interesting experience, really, to look inside and think about yourself--and then talk about yourself--as someone who creates stories. Someone who will, in a matter of weeks, have a novel published. Someone who is very different from the person I've defined myself as all these years.

Hi, my name is Allie, and I'm a writer.

7 comments:

Jim Melvin said...

You bring up an interesting point, but I think that most of us find that we relish talking about our writing, whether in private or public settings. I've done some already, and I can't wait to do more. It's so exciting and rewarding.

Allie Boniface said...

See, that's interesting, Jim, because I never felt that way. I never felt confident enough to call myself a "real" writer - whatever that means - until I had a novel accepted for publication.

In fact, sometimes I still think someone is going to spill my secret one day and tell the world that, really, I'm just an imposter, and the contract I signed was a mistake.

Really.

Jim Melvin said...

Allie, I don't think there's any question that people like you and I are real writers. The only disturbing question is, what level of success will we achieve, in the financial sense. I think there's a difference between talking about writing and talking about your latest bestseller. It's the writing that's at the core of it all -- and when you love it, you love it. Pure and simply.

bunnygirl said...

How cool! I wish someone would've talked to one of my school classes about writing when I was a 'tween or teen!

I'm sure you both inspired and gave the kids a sense of the reality of writing. There are so many misconceptions out there!

Marianne Arkins said...

I agree with you, Allie. There's a chasm between thinking of yourself as a writer, and saying it to someone else. I suppose what it's going to take for me to believe it is actually holding my book in my hands.

Sounds like you had a great trip! Welcome home, we missed you :-)

Dad said...

You always could write and talk, and talk and write,...from a very early age! I recall you were inspired by the likes of Bill Allen and your favorite(s) in college who spoke to your classes and worked with you. Now it's time to give back!

Dad

Jim Melvin said...

Awww!