Today I'm halfway through my stay at the Fremantle Children's Literature Centre, and it's been a great week, if a busy one. I've been presenting as part of the FCLC's series of Youth Literature Days, which are always full on, but fantastic fun.
I was lucky enough, back in about 2003 or 4, to be involved in the setting up of the first Youth Lit Days (or YLD's, as they shall henceforth be known), and it's a program that I'll happily keep coming back for. I think it's pretty safe to say that there's nothing else like it in Australia.
Once each term, groups of students between years 9-12 meet up at the centre and spend a day working and writing together. The days are mentored by various writers - the groups I've been working with this week have, for example, worked so far with people like Markus Zusak, Bridget Lowry, James Roy, Julia Lawrinson and heaps of others. Next term they've got Isobelle Carmody coming and in term 4, Simon Higgins.
YLD's tend to be a sort of win-win situation for all involved; the students selected (the criteria for selection is that you have to be interested and committed to writing. That's all. Grades etc... aren't important, just a love of putting words on pages) get the opportunity to work with some amazing and diverse writers, they get exposed to different ways of thinking about writing and stories, and different ways of approaching the various parts of the writing process. The writers, for their part, get to work with big groups of bright, motivated young writers, all of whom have actively chosen to be part of the program. From my point of view, I come out of YLD's really tired, but refreshed and excited.
And some of the writing produced... wow!
So that's how I'm spending my week. This week I've been doing days at the Centre in Fremantle with groups in their first and second years of the program. Next monday I'm doing one last day at the centre with a group who've been coming for four years now, and then Leslie (the centre director) and I head down south to Bunbury for a few days down there.
I can't help but wish there'd been something like this around when I was a teenager - would have been just the sort of thing I'd have loved. Still, at least I get to be involved with them now.
Have a good weekend, everyone.