Last week I spent five days teaching a bunch of very talented teenagers about writing. They were truly inspiring to work with and their enthusiasm knew no bounds. They had given up a week of their holidays to do the workshop. About half wanted to be authors, the others didn’t know yet.
When I was their age, I wanted to be an artist. I failed Year 12 English first time around so, being an author, was as far from my mind as becoming a doctor (no good at maths either) or a pilot (scared of heights) or a vet (love animals but hated the sight of blood). I did consider other occupations like archaeology, film making, social work and kindergarten teaching. But my real love was art so I studied Graphic Design.
Now, looking back, I see that writing for children has fulfilled all of those needs. I dig up stories. I write for children. I talk about relationships. I use my imagination. And I draw. I found what I love to do late in life but I consider myself very very lucky.
Above is a photo of zines my students made in class. Zines are such a wonderful way of self expression. One student wrote lines on a piece of paper and scrunched it up. This was his response to homework. Another student tore strips of paper and wrote single lines of prose that she had written during the week, another made a single white lotus on a white pond with the word Lili written in Chinese characters. There were books filled with prose and poetry and song, movie tickets, receipts and gum wrappers. That’s what I love about zines, anything goes.