Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 29 May 2010

New Experiences

I was volunteering in a classroom full of 8-9 year olds at my daughter's school yesterday morning. I'd been going there once a week for a few weeks as I'm thinking about doing a teaching assistants course. I've put my name down for a course at the school but have yet to have confirmation. It may or may not go ahead  - but nothing ventured nothing gained!

Anyway, I'd mentioned to the class teacher last week that I was a writer and she asked me to bring in my articles etc that I'd had published for the class to have a look at, so I did! I've never done anything like that before so I was a bit nervous as I wasn't sure if the class would be interested. I didn't want to bore them to death! But it was great. I passed copies of my work round the class and they were laughing at my photograph and found it funny that they now knew my first name as it was on the articles!

I asked them what qualities/skills a good writer should have and it was fascinating to hear their ideas. The first thing they said was that a writer has to be a good reader  -  out of the mouths of babes eh? They then said they had to be able to spell, listen and take good photographs. I was amazed at their insight and imagination. We had a great question and answer session. They wanted to know: how I got started in writing; who I write for; what I write; how long it takes me to write an article; how long it takes for the article I write to get in the magazines and how they do it; what I like about writing etc. It was brilliant!

I then asked them if any of them wanted to be a writer and a few hands went up. So you never know  - my little presentation could have inspired some of them to have a go themselves. They are already learning about writing and wrote letters last week. This week they saw a short animation on screen about a shirt making machine. They were then given a picture of the machine and they had to choose a section of the machine, give it a name and write about how it works. They have such wonderful imaginations! One lad thought the machine looked like the inside of a train and a girl thought it was noisy so called it the Noise machine - another group called it the Jumper Thumper!! Fantastic.

I'm glad I did it, but I just thought I was going to show them my work, so although I hadn't prepared anything it was nice to be able to practice my presentation skills on a clas of 27 children!! The teaching assistant in the class said it was fine and the children obviously enjoyed it because they paid attention and asked lots of questions at the end. I'm hoping to do some creative writing with them soon and start a creative writing after school group maybe.

As I'm hoping to start a teaching assistant course soon (we were due to be enrolled yesterday but something obscure happened somewhere and we weren't) I have just located (after a long struggle) my old 'professional profile' folder that houses all my qualification certificates and what-nots! I did my CSEs and 'O' Levels in 1987! I was interested to note that since leaving school there's not many years when I wasn't studying for some qualification or other! 1988-89 it was a BTEC Diploma in Social Care; 1991 - 1994 my nursing Diploma; 1994-1997 various nursing based 'in-house' updates and extended practice qualifications; 1997 A Further and Adult Education Teachers' Certificate; 1998 - 2000 Honours Degree (Science) 2000 - 2007 various nursing based qualifactions: leg ulcers (lovely!) Asthma, COPD, First Aid, blah, blah, blah; 2007 - 2008 Creative Writing Course; 2009 - pesent day Journalism course  -  and so it goes on!! I'd forgotten I'd done some of them so it was great to go back and see what I had done. I'm exhausted now!! I'm also feeling very, very old!

If you have the opportunity to give talks to groups about your writing and/or writing in general then I'd say go for it  - you have nothing to lose and you will gain valuable skills and experience in the process. I always said I had a fear of public speaking, but not so much now. Mind you my audience were children but it's a different ball game with adults. Still I'm hoping to do some workshops at my local writing group soon so I can feel the fear and do it anyway!

I did have a niggling thought recently that's been skulking at the back of my mind and I wouldn't be surprised if some of you haven't been thinking it too. With all the blogging and other stuff I'm doing when do I get time to write? Instead of talking about it and distracting myself with other projects, shouldn't I actually be sitting down and writing?! Well, yes, quite. My sentiments exactly. Which is why I'm shutting up for a while now and buckling down to do some writing! Short stories here I come.

If any of you want to join in with my forums where we post an analysis on either articles or short stories and discuss them please do! Just let me know your e-mail address and I can add you to the author list. I will be posting a copy of the manuscript of the short story I had published with a copy of that published story so we can look at and discuss the difference later today.

Happy analysing and writing

Julie xx


Christine said...

You are brave! Good luck with the writing group workshops.

Sue Ross said...

I love that film about the shirt-making machine.

You will get so much from the creative writing club. More to the point, the kids will.

Even better is if you can do it in school time with the kids who wouldn't usually get a chance-the ones who are often in trouble. You find they have their individual ways of looking at things and the writing becomes a tool to raise their self-esteem.
Keep it up Julie. Well done you.

klahanie said...

Hi Julie,
I like to think that your blogging is good practice for your writing skills. So I think that you have been writing. Maybe you might incorporate some of your blogging into one of your stories?
All the very best with your forums. I've no doubt you are getting good, positive interaction.
With respect, Gary x

Diane Perry said...

Well done Julie, you are brave, I was asked once to do a talk at a library, but admit I didn't feel confident so declined. I am sure you will inspire a few mini-writers out there.

Julie P said...

Thanks, Christine.

I'm hoping to sell a few more articles and short stories soon. I think if I can get more of my work published I might feel more confident about giving talks etc! Well that's the theory anyway!

Good luck with your writing too.

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Thanks, Sue

It's a great film isn't it. I'd not seen it before so it was as entertaining for me as much as it was for the kids!

I'm hoping the school will go for a creative writing club. I think they will as the head was keen to utilise my writing skills more. I'll keep you posted on that.

The gardening club finishes at the end of October and resumes in March/ April. I've just been asked to assist in the art club that runs November to Feb so I'll enjoy that and I can use both clubs as evidence for my NVQ, if it ever gets started!

Yes, they have a few kids in that situation and they don't tend to attend the clubs, which is a shame. I'm all for engaging them in something that interests them.

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Hi Gary, and thank you!

Yes it was my blogging that resulted in my first articles being published in The Link which then led on to Writers' Forum and Writing Magazine. So in that respect it was great practice. I also find that I can be merrily blogging away and it sparks an idea for an article or short story.

I do think though if I didn't spend so much time on the Internet I'd get a lot more writing done! I'm happy with what I've achieved so far with my writing, but I'd like to get more published.

This week I'm not in school so I have more time to write. It's all about prioritisation so this week I am giving my writing top billing!

Not long til the wedding! Can't wait.

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Hi, Di!

I think I felt able to do it as I already knew the kids. I think if I'd gone into a classroom cold I would have struggled!

My problem is that I think of myself as a fraud in terms of writing! I think if I get more published I might feel more of a 'proper' writer! I don't know!

Julie xx

Simon Whaley said...

And now you can add 'guest speaker' to your CV too!

You are so right. Children soak up all sorts of information at school. Your talk may well be the moment when one of then thought to themselves, "Yeah, I'd like to give that a go!'

Good for you!

Julie P said...

Guest speaker (tee hee!) I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and the kids seemed to enjoy it too. It made me think about the perceptions people have about writers and what they think a writer actually does!

There was one lad who was particularly interested in what I was saying and he asked lots of questions too. Interestingly, none of them wanted to go into journalism but a few wanted to write books. It was fascinating.

Julie xx