Though I have been speaking at elementary schools for years, I took part in my first career day today at my local elementary school. It was the school's first career day, too.
My loyal and maybe even occasional readers are probably aware that I am more than a little obsessive. So while I couldn't commit a lot of time to creating a career day presentation, I still managed to go overboard. I received criteria and suggestions from the organizers and, just as if I'd received a letter of comments from an editor, I went about choosing the ones I wanted to include. And then I included them.
I revised an early version of my general school presentation in order to cover how I moved from being a child writer to the publication of my first book, which gave me an opportunity to discuss high school and college course work and a job I held when I finished school. I then went on a personal mission to explain the difference between traditional and self-publishing because in talking with and reading about inexperienced writers, it seems to me that many don't understand that they're responsible for selling their own books with self-publishing. The school requested that speakers try to talk about how they use math, science, or technology in their work, so I laced a technology thread through the program, talking about journal software as well as Internet promotion.
I didn't get a lot of questions in the ten minutes I carefully scheduled after my wild trainride of a talk. I may have overwhelmed the young ones, especially since I never had more than six students at these PowerPoint presentations and at one of them only two. Or the program may have been so incredible that there was nothing left for them to ask. Yeah, that could be it.
Believe it or not, I came away with an essay idea from this experience. (I think I did mention to one of the teachers that everything I do, maybe even every moment of my life, can end up in my work. I don't know how strongly I made that point with the kids.) I've also started thinking about investing in some journal software as a result of planning this thing. Oh, and I used a smartboard instead of just working off a laptop the way I usually do.
So, really, even if the kids thought it was a complete waste of time for them and wished they'd signed up to see the meteorologist who works for the feds chasing hurricanes, it was a really good experience for me. On top of everything else, I had lunch afterwards with the hurricane guy.