Happy December! Where have you been, you ask? Besides recuperating from my 4th procedure since July, I’ve been (drumroll) teaching! Yes, teaching creative writing to the sunniest, easiest age group of kids that ever was…middle school.

A glutton for punishment, you say? Perhaps.

I was hired a couple days before the school year began, and couldn’t teach until my background checks and things were complete. Then I was informed that a great many of the students in my class had NOT chosen creative writing as an elective. So they kind of threw everyone who didn’t respond to the call for electives/was late in responding into my class.

So me stepping in after a few weeks of subs + kids who didn’t pick writing + me equals not the greatest equation for writing success. It’s difficult to get kids to write in general, let alone kids who don’t want to.

Plus, I had no idea of how to use the systems in the classrooms/online, and I created my own curriculum, and basically it was all very sink or swim.

But, after everything calmed down (and after my long hospital stint, another kink in the system!) the kids and I have reached detente. Well, it’s actually much better than detente.

They write. And revise. (Which I hated to do until I was like 25, so I’m particularly impressed. Every writer knows that revision is where the story becomes fully-formed).

Even the kids who don’t want to work have somehow mostly come around to the idea that this scribbling can be kind of fun. That they can work through problems or invent worlds (or both!). That revision is worthwhile.

I find that I like being out of the house. I enjoy having something else to concentrate on besides this sometimes wacky publishing business, day in and day out. So it’s win-win.

Is it always easy? Yes. (Ha!) Nope. Of course it’s not.

But I enjoy the kids. I enjoy seeing what their minds produce. I enjoy it when a kid busts out a second-person perspective story and it WORKS. Or when a kid who’s failing most other classes gets a story idea and grins. Or when I gasp in surprise at some kid’s turn of phrase and the kid gets pink-cheeked and skips away. Or when a kid turns inomething that is all TELLING and I explain how to SHOW and then revises it into something great. That is all pretty cool.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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