Wednesday, June 13, 2007

School Visit

Fooh. Am just back from my school visit. Quite a muddle but great fun. I didn't quite expect 60 children, and I didn't see it coming that I'd go with a swollen knee and wearing Alexis' dungarees - I did't have any better trousers this morning, due to work-stint laundry delay all in the wash. So there I was, limping around in oversized dungarees, answering questions and handing out colour pencils on demand, and generally being a chaos engine causing extreme paper scattering. I'm not sure I did that well on the question-time bit, but the art part was fun. We made paper fish by collaging photocopied drawings. I didn't do a great demonstration to the first big group so it got a bit fiddly and in places, but later on we got the hang of it a bit better and some brilliant fish emerged.

I wish I hadn't said that I want to switch to writing novels because you can do that in bed. It's my bent tailbone talking... I swear the only reason that I am getting so much writing done is that I set the bed up so I can write there. Looks bad, but there's been more than one great writer writing from bed... in fact I never really notice it any more, except when I am in company and everyone else sits down.
My favourite part was when I asked the whole class in the end where my fancy white and blue pencil went which I'd lent out. A girl put her hand up and said "They're in your pocket" and indeed, they were. She'd found them on the floor and put them back into my pencil case when I wasn't looking. I'd put the case back in my pocket and went around with the missing pencils for ages wondering where they'd turn up.
So - all good. Next time I'll wear my own trousers, though, I felt a bit like a mad comedy auntie.


Steph said...

School visits are fun, aren't they? They let you get a really good "read" on how your work is going over and to tune into your audience. Sometimes I feel so far removed from the stuff that gets published- it's so long between the handoff of work and publication that a big diconnect from the work starts to form.

Viviane Schwarz said...

Yes I liked the feedback bit! I asked "any questions?" and they all started shouting at once, and it took me a while until I relaised what they really were trying to tell me whas that they'd noticed that on one page there is a tiny little shark pulling at the huge sea monster's tail and that they thought that was the funniest thing.
Then they asked:
Why does the monster have a fort on its nose? (So it looks like it really wants to eat stuff, I said)
Why does the monster have butterfly wings? (I had an edition of "The Hobbit" that I liked that had illustrations of a dragon with butterfly wings and I lifted the idea, I said)
And they weren't completely happy with that I could tell, but also not unhappy. I'm glad they managed to home in on the part that was the hardest work, actually, I did the big monster after everything else was drawn and laid out, and it took me three weeks to design... But I do find it hard to answer "why" questions in a way that people like, they always keep frowning, even though I try to be honest... or maybe because!

I think I'll do some more of that, anyway, that was the first time I actually got some direct feedback from a load of children. - Although I think what would have really made them go bananas more than anything I could have possibly done is if I'd told them I was Alexis' flatmate, one of his books is a set text in London schools, and loved madly and truly. Hah!

Viviane Schwarz said...

A fork, not a fort. The monster does not have a fort on his nose. That would be, well, odd.