Friday, November 28, 2014

I found something shiny in my email

Image by Vicky Brock via Flickr
I found something shiny in my email.

Email is not one of my favourite tasks. It’s a never-ending pile and it’s always in danger of collapsing on me. I’ve tried many strategies to manage it but nothing is working so far.

There are four sorts of email I do like – emails from friends, emails from people who love to read or write, emails from my editor and emails from kids whose school I’ve visited.

I always encourage kids to email me. I love to hear they enjoyed my session or that they like to read and sometimes, not very often, I get an email from a kid who likes to write.

Two days ago an email arrived headed: Can you help me with my story? from a girl at a school I had visited last month. I responded to say I would love to but I was drowning in work for the next two days and I would get back to her then.

This afternoon I opened the email attachment. It wasn’t a lot – a beginning and an end. Her problem was finding what went in the middle.

The writing was wonderful and beautifully crafted. I sat there stunned.

Sure, it needed a little polishing. It was obviously the work of a young person and I would have chosen different words from my own wider adult vocabulary but I know she’ll find those herself if she keeps writing. She doesn’t need me to pre-empt that.

I don’t know how old she is, I would guess maybe Year 5, probably Year 6. What she had was laid out with headings – beginning, complication and ending – the things she had learned in class. I do know that I’d be pleased with myself if I had written that beginning and end - the immediately engaging character, the perfectly timed humour, the visual action scene - and in the end, a killer last line.

I edited a little, explaining why – pruning an unnecessary sentence, removing a piece of “telling” and correcting the speech attribution punctuation. I wasn’t game to touch anything else. And it didn’t need me to.  Finally, I made a list of suggestions for how to find the story for the missing middle. I hoped she might share the next installment with me.

I polished lightly because it was already shining. The shiniest thing I’ve ever found in my email.


Anonymous said...

Was that me?
From Thirrin

Anonymous said...

Was that me???!!!
From Thirrin

Sandy Fussell said...

So is Thirrin a pen name? In that case, it was you. Your story pieces were wonderful and I think one day I will be borrowing your books from the library!

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