Have you ever scribbled a message of love onto a shirt? Signed your name? Left your mark? Well the Seniors of 2017 at Matthew Flinders in Buderim where I teach finished their year in style and celebration with a magnificent dinner, entertainment and speeches. I was one of the lucky ones to attend the well organised event where proud parents sat amidst the decorated tables of Houses like Bradman, Mawson, Chisholm etc. Even the prep teachers were there to congratulate some students who began at 5 years and finished at 18 years – a whole lot of valuable learning.
The next day at the College saw the final gathering of the troops in the Quad for a hearty brekky where staff, Seniors and their teary eyed parents waved them farewell in the sports centre and through the tunnel. This rite of passage is something to watch. The shy ones leave first as they walk past hordes of younger students waving them goodbye. Then the momentum builds up as students hug, slap hands, cry and joke with anyone who has impacted their schooling. There were tears, smiles and relief etched on their faces. Friends embracing friends; good memories and a positive finish.
With their uniforms autographed, and their sights set on departure, the Seniors left the grounds ready for more adventure and schoolies, but that’s another blog.
Prior to this special event came time for writing – when like minded souls met for the Sunshine Writer’s retreat at Montville. As a day visitor, I was armed with my trusty notebook, super organised program, camera and a good dose of curiosity and expectation. Arriving at the beautiful venue, Montville Country cabins I was lucky again to be a part of a very special group of people who are committed and passionate about their writing goals, illustrating projects and getting published.
Time to connect. Time to grow as an aspiring author. Time to explore new friendships in a tranquil setting and listen to professional speakers share their tips and writing lives.
From Samantha Wheeler and Karen Foxlee ( children’s book authors) to Wombat publisher Rochelle Manners, “How to secure a Publisher and Preparing a Pitch” with award winning author, Aleesah Darlinson to the witty and warm illustrator/ writer, Flaxton father Peter Carnavas ( who inspired us all with drawing penguins, listening to music and finding “the blue page”, all the participants took home so much learning. A lot of learning that celebrates creative storytelling.
I learnt more about “show don’t tell”, rules and regulations of publishers, submission processes, preparing a writer’s CV, the magical mystery of a good book for children, humour. I learnt about narrative structure, openings and storyboards. I heard about rejection letters, animal characters and cost effective social media.
I came away inspired, happily overwhelmed and ready to edit my stories. I came away with some new picture books in hand, the one above by Michelle Worthington called The World’s Worst Pirate and met the author Tess Rowley who wrote a funny book about “bottoms” that my grand daughter loves to read ( see below left)
Thanks to the amazing and talented Aleesah Darlinson ( above right) and her vibrant volunteers and support network, this retreat was a marvellous success. Such enthusiasm is contagious. Spread the writing word!
November has this way of noticing things – the jacaranda blooms, the sparkle of Christmas tinsel, the strained look on teenager’s faces, the emotional pauses of writer’s block, the scent of natives growing in the gardens, home baked treats at a writing conference and the tiredness that creeps in when you are learning so much. I wonder if my head will explode – with new ideas, new projects and new expectations.