Back in 2002, I went to talk to a 6th Grade class at Maplewood Elementary in Edmonds, WA about writing the fantasy genre. A colleague got me the 'gig'; it was her son's class. It's kind of weird to think I've been working on 'The Mage Sister' for that long, but it is a fact.
I can't tell you how nervous I was! I was terrified, and they were only 12 years old! I struggled through the first part, telling them about writing fantasy, and about suspension of disbelief, and how you can support that in fantasy by introducing elements that anyone can relate to. I didn't know that's what you call it then, and that's probably just as well. It was probably too technical for a group of 6th graders. I handed out a long list of favorite fantasy books - old and new. And then I talked about my book. I showed them my picture board and talked about how part of my process is to draw portraits of my characters. I was shaking in my shoes the whole time.
Then they started asking me questions. That was the part I loved! They were so into it! They weren't like talking to adults, who expect things to make sense, to be logical, to be realistic. 12 year olds just go with it, and they wanted to engage in the world that I had built. It was one of the best experiences ever, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Then, several days later, my colleague brought me a large envelope containing the letters and a couple of pictures she had taken during my talk. Yeah, I cried like a baby. Especially when I read the one signed 'Your first fans'.
It has been a very long journey since then. Those kids are no longer 12 years old, in fact, if my math is correct, they have graduated from school a long time ago and are all somewhere in their early-ish 20's (Yikes!). They probably don't even remember the time in 6th grade that lady came to talk about her book. But I will remember that day forever. It was the first time I really felt like a writer, the day I fully embraced it.