Back to School

The school year in Australia started a couple of weeks ago but I no longer have to see anyone out the door in the morning. It’s strange to feel so removed from the daily school ritual. The youngest kid in our family finished Year 12 last year and will start university in a couple of weeks so the shape of my family’s daily routine is definitely changing. Even my husband, a full-time drama teacher until a few months ago, has left teaching and is dedicating himself to the more serious pursuit of puppeteering – www.punchandjudy.com.au

Last year I didn’t visit many schools as I wanted to focus on simply writing. With three unfulfilled publishing contracts, I needed to be sure I could get on top of all my writing commitments and not distract myself by spending too much time talking about being a writer, rather than actually getting the words down on paper. The reclusive time worked. I managed to complete two of the three contracted books, though I still have a way to go on the third. But I didn’t enjoy it in quite the way I had anticipated. I missed meeting kids.

So now I’m dying to get back into schools – because not visiting them made me realize how much I missed the intense human interaction. At first I thought I’d be glad to not have to leave my office. I’d visited a lot of schools and participated in plenty of festivals in 2007 and I was weary of the merry-go-round, fatigued by the sea of new faces that I saw every day. A big dose of time at my desk has changed my perspective. Last week I spoke to one hundred Grade 5 and 6 students at Caufield Grammar. They were fantastic. Mixing with kids is genuinely inspiring. I love their energy, their enthusiasm and their quirky take on the world.

I’ve started saying ‘yes’ to all sorts of invitations and it feels good. One of the hardest things about writing is finding a balance between the outside world and the necessary commitment to solitude that all creative work requires.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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