6 Days -- New Eyes on the Prize

I'm in rural Georgia, lovin' every minute of it. Not writing a word. But I've done something important with my story, something that will help me finish -- more on this in a moment.

Stephens County Middle School -- Thank you! What a wonderful day -- thanks, Cindy Hensley, for all you did to make this day happen. I spoke to over 1000 students in three sessions today, and we laughed so much. We did good work together, while we had fun.

SCMS is in a fantastic new building, four years old. It's beautiful, and it's BIG. It's so big -- the hallways are so long -- that this is how Principal Tony Crunkleton gets around.

Here's something I loved about today. Principal Crunkleton came to every single session today. So did his assistant principals. So did all teachers. Sometimes I work in schools where I never meet the principal. Where teachers are grading papers (well, that doesn't happen anymore, because I Just Say No), or are otherwise involved. Once I worked with kids and never met their teachers, as they treated the assembly as a special, and did their planning elsewhere, while their kids were with me. What a lost opportunity!

Here at SCMS, every student, teacher, and administrator will be able to have conversations about what we did today, what we learned together, and how we worked on personal narrative writing, our own stories. How that will extend the lesson! How that will make a difference!

Yay for a commitment to literacy that involves bringing an author to school! Yay for a commitment to teaching and learning -- for a curiosity! -- that brings EVERYONE to assembly. Yay, Stephens County Middle School!

Today after school, I drove to Clarkesville. Tomorrow, Rabun Middle School. I'm excited. The Foxfire program has been a huge influence on my teaching. Here is its home.

I like it, here in the mountains.

If I felt like bowling, I could.

But I don't wanna bowl. I want to finish my novel. Yesterday I sent my closely-held pages to a couple of trusted readers. It's the first time anyone has read my new book besides my editor and agent. The first time my trusted readers can read what I'm up to.

And already I'm receiving feedback. "I need cheerleaders, to get to the end," I told them.

And they are cheering me on, right and left. Oh, it's grand to hear the good stuff, isn't it? We NEED to hear the good stuff. We need to know what's WORKING. Time enough to fix what's not, but tell me what's working, puff some wind into my sails, jump up and down and rah-rah-rah! Tell me I can do it! Tell me I can get to the end! Thank you, friends. Thanks for reading, and thanks for every single good word. Let me do the same for you, when the time comes. I'll go home tomorrow, rarin' to finish, buoyed by your friendship and encouragement.

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