I found something shiny in my email
Email is not one of my favourite tasks.
It’s a never-ending pile and it’s always in danger of collapsing on me. I’ve tried many strategies to manage it but nothing is working so far.
There are four sorts of email I do like – emails from friends, emails from people who love to read or write, emails from my editor and emails from kids whose school I’ve visited.
I always encourage kids to email me. I love to hear they enjoyed my session or that they like to read and sometimes, not very often, I get an email from a kid who likes to write.
Two days ago an email arrived headed: Can you help me with my story? from a girl at a school I had visited last month. I responded to say I would love to but I was drowning in work for the next two days and I would get back to her then.
This afternoon I opened the email attachment. It wasn’t a lot – a beginning and an end. Her problem was finding what went in the middle.
The writing was wonderful and beautifully crafted. I sat there stunned.
Sure, it needed a little polishing. It was obviously the work of a young person and I would have chosen different words from my own wider adult vocabulary but I know she’ll find those herself if she keeps writing. She doesn’t need me to pre-empt that.
I don’t know how old she is, I would guess maybe Year 5, probably Year 6. What she had was laid out with headings – beginning, complication and ending – the things she had learned in class. I do know that I’d be pleased with myself if I had written that beginning and end – the immediately engaging character, the perfectly timed humour, the visual action scene – and in the end, a killer last line.
I edited a little, explaining why – pruning an unnecessary sentence, removing a piece of “telling” and correcting the speech attribution punctuation. I wasn’t game to touch anything else. And it didn’t need me to. Finally, I made a list of suggestions for how to find the story for the missing middle. I hoped she might share the next installment with me.
I polished lightly because it was already shining. The shiniest thing I’ve ever found in my email.