In Friday's post I wrote about making writing a priority and saying no to others. However, if I had followed that advice I would not have attended the outstanding Foster Friends writing workshop yesterday. And that would have been a severe loss, indeed.
The Foster Friends network of NC is sponsoring an art and essay contest for children in the Foster Care system in our area. First prize is a $500 savings bond. I was asked by a friend in the program if I would facilitate the 2-hour writing workshop held yesterday. I said yes, and a friend from my writer's group, Daniel, who used to teach Jr. High English, went with me. Thank God. Daniel is a teaching whiz and quickly connected with the kids. For example, to demonstrate the importance of using specific language, he did this marvelous peanut butter and jelly exercise where he had one student instruct him how to make a PB&J sandwich. When told to take the bread out of the ziplock bag, he ripped at the opposite end of the bag that had the zipper. When told to put the peanut butter on the bread, he stacked the jar on top of the bread. And, when told to "squish together" the pieces of bread that had the peanut butter on one and jelly on the other, he left the jelly side up and squished his hand into it--to the great delight of the kids.
The kids were... brilliant. Open and communicative and serious about writing. Ages ranged from 8 to 16, yet the room jelled. I came home and told Blair only half-kiddingly that there is now an 8-year-old boy out there I want to adopt. The 8 year old boy came with 2 paragraphs already written for the contest which Daniel read over and helped him with. A 10 or 11 year old girl asked me to read the 2 and 1/2 pages she'd written. The essay is private so I won't share the contents here but... oh my God. Simply but beautifully written, heartbreaking, honest. It was an honor to spend time with these kids. I never would have wanted to miss the chance to work with them.
So I guess the lesson is... be careful what you consider saying no to or you might miss out on some really special opportunities in life.