I am a bad correspondent

I keep meaning to post an entry, but sometimes I just have to break down and watch “American Idol.” I feel such shame, and yet I cannot stop.

It’s “President’s Week” here in the NYC public school system. That means I’m getting precious little work done while falling deeper into debt. Oh wait. Now I get the connection.

I did my first school visit last week at The Little Red Schoolhouse on Bleecker Street in the Village. I taught a writing workshop to a group of 5th-8th graders. I’d cut out lots of phrases and words from magazines and told them they could take about five and use them to jump-start their writing in any way they liked, i.e., they could put them all together to form poetry, or use one or two to start a story, place them all in the story, etc. (Thanks, Susanna, for the great suggestion.)

The kids were really great–some very nice writing in the bunch. The 5th graders were quite enthusiastic and concerned with following “the rules”:

(very serious face)”What if we only want to use one and write a whole story about that?”

(Your family will be driven from their home and you will live in shame forever.)

“Can I make a dialogue out of my phrases?”

(Yes, but I’d like it in the original Swedish, please.)

“It is okay if I paste these in my writer’s notebook?”


Okay, I didn’t really say any of that. I just said, hey, it’s your workshop, you do what you want. Live free and write, you beautiful, creative tweens and teens. Feel the love. But I guess I had forgotten that when you’re 10-14, you need people to be really clear and provide a lot of structure. Duh. Important to know. Anyway, I thought they kicked ass with all of their stuff. And in the most humbling moment of all, there was an 8th grade girl wearing a pink Ramones t-shirt.

Gabba, gabba, hey…

11 thoughts on “I am a bad correspondent

  1. Loved your book

    Hi Ms. Bray,

    Really loved your book, and would like to know where you got some of the research that you got on life in India during that time period. I’m an anglophile myself, and that period has always fascinated me.



    katherine at baggers dot com

    stunned that another person has actually read New Girl

  2. hi libba!

    hey libba, it’s john from little red, remember me? LOL that was so funny because it is so true. #1 i really wish you had said those things to the 5th graders just to see their faces. #2 that girl with the pink ramones shirt was probably jessica, but she’s in the 7th grade. anyway yeah, i definitly think you should come back to our school and like yell at the 5th graders, but anyway thanks for coming at all.

  3. Hi libba it’s EMILY from LREI…i was in that thing with jennifer and came late with john.
    Anyway, the girl wearing the pink ramones tee-shirt was Mae. Then again, everyone in our school has a ramones tee-shirt and a lot of people’s are pink.
    You can add me to your friends…or not.

  4. Re: Loved your book

    You read New Girl, eh? Rock on. Sally Mitchell, the author of New Girl, helped me out a lot with research. She is a person we love. I got a lot of stuff off the Web for the India portion. Sadly, I’ve never been there. It’s on my list of things to do before I die. (A long list in case anyone’s afraid I’m expressing some suicidal ideation.)

    I’m always looking for more research options, so if YOU’VE come across some good stuff you want to share, by all means, lay it on me. Thanks. The next book in the trilogy takes place in London over Christmas, by the way. Talk about research…ay yi yi…

  5. Hey Emily, good to see you here, too. Now, of course, I don’t know whether Pink Ramones girl is Jessica or Mae. Perhaps I can split the difference and just call her Jessy Mae. And more importantly, why don’t I have a pink Ramones t-shirt? I must remedy this pronto.

  6. Re: Loved your book

    Here’s some…

    Discovering Christmas Customs and Folklore by Margaret Baker

    The Customs and Ceremonies of Britain by Charles Kightly

    I like the City of Shadows web site as well, here it is…http://cityofshadows.stegenga.net/victorianengland.html

    The Victorian Web, obviously http://www.victorianweb.org/

    A general site about Victorian Christmas cards…http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Cards/victorian_cards.htm

    I like some of the articles in this one…http://www.gober.net/victorian/

    Then there’s the ever popular Victorian Images of India bibliography (http://twist.lib.uiowa.edu/victorianindia/bibliography.html), which has some book recommendations worth looking at.

    Sorry I can’t think of any more books…I’ll let you know if I do. Feel free to e-mail me if you like.

    Hope you had a great birthday!


    katherine at baggers dot com

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