Friday, June 1, 2012

Why schools will benefit from having an author in the house...

As part of my recent Evening with Melinda Szymanik event I offered to be the 'author-in-residence' for a school. To apply school's need to say why they want me on board, and how they would utilise me in their school. You have until June 8 to get your applications in. See details at the bottom of this post.

There is no funding behind this initiative. Funding for creative endeavours in New Zealand is highly sought after and I have not been successful in the past. Applying and hearing back takes time and unfortunately I didn't have enough time.  But I knew I wanted to run with this idea. It is important that authors get paid for their time, whether its for school visits, appearances, or workshops. - I have argued this myself on a number of occasions. But there are always exceptions. When we write, more often than not we write speculatively. We spend hours working on our manuscripts with no guarantee that the story will work, will be completed, or will be picked up by a publisher, and if turned into a book, will succeed. The author-in-residence idea is like a manuscript. It is a speculative initiative. Because one of the things that all children's authors could benefit from in New Zealand is a raised profile amongst our potential readers. And our readers are in schools. And it would be good for New Zealand children to know more about their local authors. And I want the chance to show schools and other interested bodies that having a programme like this can be a win-win for everyone involved. I think this idea has a lot of potential. And I am prepared to give some of my time for free at this stage to demonstrate the benefits. In the long run this could have positive implications for a much wider number of New Zealand authors and children in schools.

Why do I think an author-in-residence is a good idea for schools? Communication is fundamental in human communities, in families, friendships and workplaces. Books are our training ground for effective communication both written and spoken. Books are a source of information and entertainment; our window on the wide world. Books are knowledge and knowledge is power. Books change lives. Books are freedom. I will be sharing my love of books, and a love of reading. It will be a chance to extend keen readers and writers and encourage those who are a wee bit reluctant. It will be about finding enjoyment in books. Because if people enjoy something they will want to do it again and again.

Oh, and I have some skills in writing too. I am a published working writer and I can share my knowledge, tips and techniques with any keen writers you might have at your school. I can talk to students and teachers. And the school and students can choose how my time will be used. If you want me to read books aloud I would be delighted. I love reading aloud. If you want me to give one-on-one advice I can do that. I can give workshops to small groups, or run a regular book club at your school. I can answer questions on writing, reading, books, the writers life, and literature. I have degrees in Science and  English Literature and am widely read. I am currently studying towards a diploma in children's literature but I have studied adult literature as well. I have visited many schools, given talks to groups of 30 children up to 300, and taught workshops to a range of students from primary to adult. I won an award for one of my books. I am excited by all the possibilities. Oh the places we'll go!

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