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FridayDecember 2007

We here at 826michigan’s international headquarters have decided that every Friday in December we’ll post a blog especially for you highlighting two things we’re excited about or proud of. Ready? Let’s go!

1. Tall Tales & True Stories!

This year, our in-school publication project focuses on third, fourth, and fifth graders at Childs Elementary in Ypsilanti. A mix of personal narratives and fantastic yarns, the book, titled Tall Tales & True Stories, comes out of months of afterschool workshops and one-on-one sessions with young writers and our volunteers.

Yesterday, I got to participate in one such one-on-one session, and so I got a glimpse into the minds of several brilliant fifth graders, and the work that will eventually go into the publication. I worked with Sarah, who wrote an incredibly scary story about a cursed monster named Tilly Todd. I also got to work with Henry, whose tall tale explains not only why there are so many snowstorms in Montana, but also how the islands off the coast of Alaska came to be. When he finished reading it to me, I was at a loss. “Henry,” I said, “I have very few suggestions for how to improve this.” He asked me what they were. “No,” I replied. “That’s a figure of speech for saying your story is pretty close to perfect, and I don’t know how you could make it better.”

“Well,” he said, “for starters, I know there are a ton of spelling and punctuation problems.” Sometimes it’s a fight not to hug these students we are so lucky to work with.

But the thing Henry said that I never get sick of hearing? “I hate writing,” he confided to me after I had expressed my excitement over his piece, “but I had the best time writing this.” He told me that he usually hated writing because it wasn’t fun.

Here’s how I feel about people who don’t like to read: They just haven’t found the right book yet. And Henry’s a perfect example of how I feel about people who don’t like to write: They just haven’t found the right thing to write about.


Brandon writes very seriously in one of
our afterschool workshops about tall tales.

2. Drop-in Writing Time!

By the looks of it, hundreds of you participated in our twice weekly drop-in writing sessions this summer. Super-summer-intern Ellen Fitzgerald led up to forty-five writers of varying ages through writing exercises both seriously dramatic and outrageously hilarious. Writers on all points of the scale from reluctant to prolific came together to write, laugh, share, and just generally enjoy the craft of putting pen (or pencil) to paper.

These sessions were so packed, so fun, so filled with inspiration, so successful, that we are reprising drop-in writing time in our MEGAWORKSHOP this December. The MEGAWORKSHOP continues every Monday through Thursday until December 20. Writers of all ages and abilities are invited to come between 6-7pm (no registration necessary!) on these days for guided writing activies.

We’ve had between five and ten students each night so far working on everything from describing the noses of seven people sitting in a waiting room to translating a poem written in a language you don’t know. Thanks to Jared Hawkley, Chrissy White, Adrienne Young, Aaron Burch, and Elizabeth Ellen for leading MEGAWORKSHOPs this week!

For those of you who can’t make it, you can find out all about what happened at the MEGAWORKSHOP in January, when we publish a chapbook of the work that was created in it.


A little taste of what drop-in writing
time looked like this summer.

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