“New York Times” best-selling author George Hodgman shared his literary experiences with Van-Far students when he talked with English classes on Friday, March 11 inside the high school cafeteria.
“The most important decision you make as a writer is how you begin your story,” Hodgman said during his presentation. “…If you don’t immediately establish a bond with the reader, then you’ve lost them. It has to happen really quickly.”
Hodgman added that it’s important to not confuse the reader at the beginning of a book.
“If the reader is immediately confused, they will never get on the boat with you,” he added.
He said it’s important to pay attention to the use of extra words and that every sentence has to be cared for properly.
Hodgman compared writing to sculpting.
When he wrote the memoir “Bettyville,” he said he used writing to help him deal with his mother’s battle with dimensia and cancer.
“As she went through chemotherapy and various things, I realized how much the experience of walking her through this end of her life had changed me,” he added. “The book became I think primarily a story of how taking care of somebody changes you and what my mother gave to me…”
He also answered several questions from those in attendance. When asked what the hardest part of writing the book was, Hodgman quickly answered “to be honest.”
“I think we all hide so much from each other and there’s so many things we don’t say,” he said. “It’s about a relationship between you and a reader and that honesty is so important…”
He said the best writing came to him when walking the dog or running an errand.
“Writing a book is kind of magical,” he added. “It’s an amazing introduction on how much you’re taking in of the world all day long that you’re not aware of.”
Hodgman’s book “Bettyville” has been selected as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle and is currently an Amazon’s “Best Pick of the Month” book.
His appearance was a part of the district’s Reading Day Celebration.
On March 15, students heard from two Missouri novelists, Marlene Lee and Alice Ann Reece.
The two shared their writing experiences with the students in separate break-out sessions.
Missouri Reading Day was spent immersing students into both reading and writing activities designed to fuel their passion for language and words.
Door prizes were given and T-shirts and books from the featured authors were available for purchase.
The public was invited to attend.