Last night, I skipped my weekly tin whistle class--something I never do without a very good reason (previous good reasons have mostly entailed being out of the country). Last night's reason was for a book launch party for Don't Forget toWrite, a new publication from 826 National (see previous posts for more info on my involvement with 826) compiling lesson plans from some of the workshops from 826's around the country. The purpose of the book is to help teacher's inspire kids to find writing fun again--something I never felt was emphasized enough when I was in school. As David Handler, speaking for Lemony Snicket, said in the promotional video, "Kids all have the potential to be great writers. They're all born with stories they want to tell, and sooner or later they can all hold pencils."
On request, I had contributed a lesson plan for a workshop I designed and ran with a friend on making stories through mashing together literary genres. We had gathered the materials together and sent them to the editor a while ago, and up until I received the invitation to the launch party a week or so ago, I had completely forgotten about it. So why was this worth my getting behind on learning to play slip jigs? Mostly, it was just exciting to go to a launch party for a book I had contributed to. As fun as it is writing freelance and having my name on the front of a book, it doesn't have nearly the same fanfare when my author's copy arrives at my inner office mailbox as it does when I get it while enjoying free wine and assorted meats and cheeses.
Also, as I hadn't known that much about the project when I agreed to contribute, it was exciting to see who else was in it. Dave Eggers wrote the foreword, and while I haven't read any of his recent books, I will always be a fan or his starting for 826 and then marketing it so well at a speech he gave at the University of Central Arkansas that I remembered to look up the organization a year later when I moved to New York. Jon Scieszka contributed a chapter which was exciting to me because I remember when he came to my elementary school when I was in the 5th grade. He autographed my copy of The Stinky Cheese Man. I was also a fan of his Time Warp Trio series, which I see, through a quick google search, has expanded greatly long after I aged out of reading them. Also, submitting a lesson plan was Jory John, who I only recently became a fan of when a friend sent me a link to his book. He has another one called I Feel Relatively Neutral About New York that I can perhaps relate to more, as I live here and so many of my friends are alive. Anyway, this fandom led me to stalking his twitter and also learning that he works with 826 (the original in San Fransisco) as well. An admirable person to be compiled in a book with, to be sure.
If you are in need of a book with over 50 creative writing lesson plans for elementary grades (which I'm afraid, many of my readers may not be...), don't miss out on the book that film producer/director Judd Apatow calls "unconventionally brilliant." At any rate, that's enough tooting of my own horn for now, but I will say, this is so going on my resume.