I’m now in the last week of the Wordsmiths tour of schools with cookbook writer Alessandra Zecchini and comic book writer Johnny-Angel. This is part of the Going West Books and Writers festival which is a touring programme that takes writers into Auckland intermediate and secondary schools. The goal is to engage with and inspire students, talk about the writing process and our various paths to publication.
So far we’ve visited the following schools:
Monday 13th August: Blockhouse Bay Intermediate
Tuesday 14th August: Bruce McLaren Intermediate
Wednesday 15th August: Te Atatu Intermediate
Tuesday 21st August: Rutherford High
Wednesday 22nd August: Kelston Girls College
Tuesday 28th August: St Dominics College
Over the course of the next two days, we have a busy schedule of four more schools:
Wednesday 29th August: Massey High and Glen Eden Intermediate
Thursday 30th August: Henderson Intermediate and Kelston boys High
I’ve loved doing this. At first, I was a bit nervous, especially given that our first visit was in front of 900 children. Authors are a funny breed – most of us aren’t really into self-promotion. It’s all very well to tuck yourself behind your desk and furiously write but actually talk to people face to face – well. Let’s just say I wasn’t the best. I’ve got better though. That’s the thing with practice. It’s like anything – the more you do something the better at it you get.
The thing is, after the first couple of schools, I really found myself getting into it. I am, after all, talking about a person and books that I know something about i.e. myself and my works. I’ve really enjoyed engaging with the audience and reaching my target audience. It’s nice to think that I am making even more of a difference than I’d do normally in my everyday teaching life. The Rapture Trilogy targets this age group so this exposure isn’t something I’d normally get teaching 7-8 year olds.
I’m passionate about literacy and writing. I like to think that passion is contagious. All three of us talk about the purpose of writing. Not every one of these young adults will become an author but I want them to see that all writing has a purpose. Being able to write helps in so many ways, in so many careers. Hopefully, some of them will be inspired to keep reading and keep writing. As I stress so often – practice, practice, practice. My first novel wasn’t much chop but I’ve got better. Why? Because I read a lot and I write a lot. I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I’ve grown as a writer because of it. Even if I only reach a small fraction of my audience, I still count that as a success.
Phillip W. Simpson
Phillip W. Simpson is an author of YA and children's books.