It has been a super busy few weeks, but I wanted to share some of the awesome that has been going on as I’ve toured for The 8th Continent: Welcome to the Jungle.
Our trip began in Austin, my old hometown. We had a great lineup of events, all of which I found to be eye-opening and moving.
Monday April 6th we had a fantastic school visit at West Ridge Middle School. West Ridge was where I attended 6th, 7th, and 8th grade way back when Altavista was my search engine of choice and The Rosie O’Donnell show was must-see TV. I spoke to about 100 students about the book and the garbage patch, then met in small groups with other students. One of my former teachers, Carol Reese, teaches a program that is very similar in structure to the graduate program I went to at NYU. The coolest thing I saw there was a student project that looked like Rick and Evie might have made it.
That is a very comfy chair made out of crushed water bottles and lined with recycled plastic cushions. So awesome!
Tuesday was the event at BookPeople, a very cool indie bookstore in Austin, TX. After the reading, I spoke to a budding young writer and West Ridge student who had missed the Monday event. I gave her two pieces of advice that I would encourage all aspiring writers to follow. First, write swiftly. It doesn’t matter if your writing is good, as long as you’re writing. Writing is like playing the piano — you have to make a lot of noise before you get good. Second, finish something! It’s hard to evaluate a story that doesn’t have a beginning, middle, and end. So get started and get finished!
Wednesday I did two workshops at Barton Creek Elementary. They were very nice and gave me so much time with the students. We got to do writing exercises and have great discussions about the garbage patch. The students were eager to get their books autographed (I signed A LOT of copies) and the faculty seemed very pleased.
On Wednesday night I flew to Philadelphia for more book events. On Thursday the good folks at Children’s Book World took me to Shipley Lower School and Scenic Hills Elementary, where I was warmly welcomed.
School visits are amazing, and it’s always a treat to hear the students’ great ideas about how we can clean up the garbage patch.
After that whirlwind, I returned home, pooped but happy. I needed the rest, because Earth Day was coming up, and I had big things planned.
On Earth Day I did a book event at Horace Mann, a school in New York where I teach Minecraft and Video Game Design after school classes. It was a blast! We brainstormed ways to clean up the garbage patch, and how to reduce its spread. I’m confident one of these bright young people is going to figure out how to clean up the oceans once and for all.
It’s been quite an adventure, and there are many more school visits in my future. There’s nothing like meeting with students face to face.