You probably already know that this month is named after Janus, the god often shown with two faces. I think it is a brilliant idea because I do spend this month looking both forward and back. Forward – I fill in the calendar and generally plan my year; back – because I often catch myself putting the wrong date and trying to remember what I did in over the last twelve months.
It has also worked out a two-faced month for me as a writer this time. I’ve just spent a week at Lumb Bank, a house in Yorkshire owned by a creative writing foundation called Arvon. The poet Ted Hughes once lived there. Maybe your school has done a course with them? It’s a beautiful place as you can see from my photos. We had the added magic of snow.
Usually I go there to teach writing but this time I went to learn – so I flipped from teacher to student in a very Janus like fashion. No one thinks to train us authors in how to inspire you if we visit your school so (here’s the secret!) we all just wing it. Sometimes we fly like a condor – but sometimes we come down to earth with a bump when we get it wrong. The week gave me a chance to gather lots of new ideas and discuss what works and what doesn’t. The other writers were vastly experience with people from all walks of life, from prisons to the homeless, though I think we all agreed that Y9 on a Friday afternoon was the toughest audience 😉
Have you ever had someone come in as a guest to teach you creative writing? Why not let me know what you thought was the best thing they did?
And just a note for those of you who like my Joss Stirling books, the latest one is out in February, though some copies are already in shops. You can find out more about it in the trailer.