Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Life of a Writer

One of my goals for this year was to bring an author to speak to our Upper School. We had an ambassador and public health official speak last year, and the impact of hearing how people ended up in their careers was powerful. I knew I wanted to add a writer to that.

However, having a goal does not mean I can achieve it, particularly in these financial times. Our department budget has been restricted, and finding an author to come with little to offer was not high on my list. Enter technology! Ah, Will Richardson, you will love this story of the wonders of the web ...

I got an email from a Virginia author, Maggie Stiefvater, who had found my name listed as the department coordinator on my school's website. She sent me her information, including links to reviews about her new book and to her blog. I liked what I saw. Many of our students devour fantasy outside of the classroom, and it seemed that people were devouring Maggie's book already. Turns out because we are so close to her, she will come for much less money because she wants to encourage students to pursue lives as writers.

So, Maggie is coming Monday to present to our students. The connections the web have allowed between published authors and us as readers are astounding. In this singular instance, I would never have found Maggie before the web allowed us to find each other. But in a bigger sense, students can meet and learn from authors without them coming to our school. My students this past fall found Paulo Coelho's website and ended up friending him on Facebook and following some of his blog. I was so interested in seeing their reactions to this discovery because Coelho became a different kind of writer to them. They commented that he was even more connected through technology than they were, and this gave him a relevance that was subtle but definitely there. I plan to have my students next year delve even more into the ways we can connect with Coelho, but really, this spontaneous connection was better than any lesson plan I will develop.

So thank you to Maggie and Paulo and any other authors who have made themselves available to the world. My students may just become writers because of you.


  1. Susanne,

    Great job in asking the right questions. I have a theory when it comes to authors, and most of humanity, and that is that they all have some streak of vanity in them. How else could they place such a part of themselves out into the world in the form of their writing?

    Asking experts to speak to students is really not that crazy. What is the worst they can do? Excellent work in getting some great voices into your students' lives. If you can record it, I would love to hear the conversations.

  2. Thanks, Patrick. I may try to ustream it if I can get my ech act together by then. My students are seeming excited about hearing her, and they asked great questions to send to her ahead of time.