Back to school – with a difference

WP_20160201_12_56_44_ProHere we are – back at school … in this photo, taken on Monday, in the library of Satash.net community school in Cornwall.

WHY were we there? Not just to sell our books (even though that’s what this picture looks like) no, we were recruited to help the sixth form A level English group tackle the new creative writing element of the English A-level.

Sally Newton, also published by Pendown Publishing, writes Historical Novels. With a PhD in Archaeology she is dead-keen to make sure all the history is correct – though her life-long love of writing fuels the adventures she puts her (real life historical) characters through.

I write contemporary novels, so, as such, I do not have that sort of research to do – though I do plenty of a different type of research – depending upon what my totally fictional characters are interested in, work at or end up being faced with.

While talking to the students, it was interesting to note that one of my contemporarily written novels, ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’, was created in the early 1990s and as such, for the sixth-formers in front of us, was now ‘history’ as it all happened before they were born. In a different era – almost – when the common person did not even own a mobile phone (let alone a child!) and if they did it was a BRICK! Yes, there were computers, and this story dealt with computers, but not as they would know them, and the ‘floppy-discs’ that information was stored on (again – unheard of now) … and, of course, there was NO internet.

Life before the internet really does seem to be a different time. My children were born into the computer-era. We had a computer (BBC B) from when they were really quite small (with 32 KB of RAM! haha! The computer – not the children) By the age of seven our eldest was creating computer programmes to make simple games in ‘BBC Basic’ (the computer language) Then came Granny and her Archimedes (Acorn) computer, running the RISC operating system, much more powerful and the most advanced system at the time! This also found its way into my novel. But even that computer only had 4MB of RAM. It is hard to remember … how slow … how basic.

However, without access to that computer I may never have got into writing properly – for while my writing remained by hand in scruffy old exercise books it was never going anywhere. So when I wrote my first, full-length (never to be published/apprentice-piece) novel in just that way (while keeping half an eye on a toddler potty-training) it was only after I was encouraged to type it up on the computer – and saw the total words displayed (using the amazing ‘words’ function) at 84,000 … and realised that I could do it – I really could write a WHOLE book – that I let myself spend time actually doing that – gave my imagination permission to write – my aspiration permission to think ‘Author’.author

We finished up the day at the school by helping individual students as they tackled the task of writing the first page of a novel; three-hundred and fifty words to convey so much … just what we aim for ourselves.  They were a bright and interesting group of students to interact with and displayed a breadth of ideas that was pleasing to see!

 Have you ‘gone back to school’ for any reason recently?

What were your experiences?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you. 

 

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