It’s a testament to how strange this world has become that not only do I need to get police checks and clearances in order to step into a school and talk to kids, I have to get insurance in case I inadvertently do something to them.

Like what?

Fall on them or something?

I’ve heard of authors who balk at police checks and clearances, and I completely understand. I mean as authors and storytellers we’re never left alone with the kids. The teachers are always present! But still, in this day and age, I can see why educational institutions would want to ensure that the people who come in contact with their vulnerable student body, haven’t committed any perverse sort of crimes.

And it helps that I have nothing to hide!

But insurance?

In a position where I talk for a living???

Oh well.

People sometimes get wound up about the prestige of being an author without realizing all the humdrum banalities that come along with it. And sometimes I just feel like kvetching.

On another note, it’s been such an interesting period of growth in terms of creativity.

I guess I can be more forthcoming of this project I’ve been working on. It’s through Pearson educational and is an educational series they developed to tackle issues of mental wellness in the classroom.

I wrote a short story, kind of a novella really, about an Iraqi refugee who comes to Canada and has to deal with the aftermath of the Boston bombing incident. I called it Not Guilty and it’s actually one of the finest pieces of writing I’ve done.

I’m really proud of it, and it wouldn’t have come together without the encouragement of two very good friends of mine.

In the past I’ve always relied on ‘inspiration’ to drive my projects.

I get the idea, I get all excited, then I write, write, write, till the project’s done.

Well with Not Guilty the inspiration came and I wrote the title poem and it nearly got published as a picture book and then fell through. Then I got busy with other things and when I was approached by Pearson to work on this series because apparently Deborah Ellis recommended me for it, I took out the Not Guilty poem, brushed it off, still really liked it, and sent it to them.

They loved it, but they asked me to develop it into a longer piece, so I did.

I thought who wrote this poem???

Why did he write it???

I got the distinct impression that it was a boy, and he was going through a lot, and so I ended up making him an Iraqi.

I have no idea why, I just did. And this was before ISIS reared its ugly head, when Iraq was out of the news.

So I was half done, dragging my heels on this project and my two friends invited me on a writing retreat. We went up north to a little cottage to get some time to really write, and at this retreat, I just buckled down and basically finished the project.

I wouldn’t call the writing of it ‘fun’, or particularly inspiring.

It was just work.

Perspiration vs inspiration.

I knew what I wanted to do with the story, and I just did it.

And when I was done I had Not Guilty and now I’m really proud of it. I think it more than holds its own in the package. It’s about racism and stereotyping.

In fact, and I know this will sound kind of snobbish, but I actually thought the story was ‘too good’ for educational! You know educational stories! They’re kind of, um, boring. But my friends rebuked me for that thinking and they were right. Why shouldn’t I give my all to every story I write, whether it’s educational or not?

And the interesting thing is that when they sent the booklets to a grade seven classroom for the kids to read it, the kids loved the story so much, that the boys (boys!!!) actually wrote a LOT about what the story meant to them, how much they felt like they were the boy telling the story, and if you know how reticent boys tend to be in terms of writing responses and expressing themselves…well!

The reaction is remarkable!

In fact they wanted to know what would happen to this boy after this story, which is also a very good sign. And I’m toying with the idea of turning it into a full fledged novel.

So it seems I’m going through a different phase of my creativity.

A more ‘dogged’ phase.

I’m doggedly determined to just finish the projects to the best of my ability, and send them out into the world.

To learn more about Pearson’s Well Aware series and to buy it please click here

I am told it is possible to purchase only one title in the series, you’d have to call customer service here: 1-800-361-6128

I really like the cover of Not Guilty. It’s a brick wall with a badminton birdie swirling in front of it. Very suitable to the story!