Bret Anthony Johnston, best-selling author and Director of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas in Austin, spent the afternoon on ESD's campus conducting writers' workshops for our Upper School students and eighth graders and speaking to them about what it's like to be a writer.
Johnston spoke to the eighth-grade class about the importance of revision, and how to achieve positive change in your writing through revision. The different tactics will be employed by the students as they begin to work on their next English project. In his presentation to Upper School students, which was comprised of English classes and the student staff of the ESD literary magazine Itinerary, Johnston answered an array of questions that spanned from "What do you think about writer's block?" ("It doesn't exist") to "How do you let your characters lead your story and writing, rather than vice versa?"
Johnston's experience in a variety of writing fields, like short stories, fiction novels, and screenplays, enabled him to give sound advice to our student writers. He encouraged every student to write two minutes every day; it can be more than two minutes, but never less. He was able to convey the emotion behind being a writer, and why it is more than just a job for most.
"Most people say they know they're a writer when they get their first work published," said Johnston. "But I think you know you're a writer when you've stopped writing and you miss it. Writing is really a vocation, a calling."
Thank you to Bret Anthony Johnston for your time and for sharing your knowledge and experiences with our students!
ABOUT BRET ANTHONY JOHNSTON
Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Remember Me Like This, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and the winner of the 2015 McLaughlin-Esstman-Stearns Prize. The book has been translated around the world and is being made into a major motion picture. Bret is also the author of the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Independent (London) and The Irish Times, and the editor of Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work appears in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Best American Short Stories, and on NPR's Selected Shorts.
For more information about Bret Anthony Johnston, click here.