invite the author
None of us knows how long it will be until we can see each other face-to-face again, but thanks to Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and all their cousins, it's still possible to get together. Take a look at the possibilities below. If you're interested in a virtual visit, contact me with what you have in mind. Chances are good that together we can work something out. Until then, take a deep breath, read a good book, and stay safe.
In all my visits, I strive to engage young people in a natural, spirited, and honest dialogue about writing and the writing life. Below, you will find a general description of how a day might go if were to visit the young people in your school. Of course, I am always happy to adapt the visit to your needs.
“David Elliott’s presentation to the whole school was wonderful.
The kids connected with him right away. We were then very lucky
to also have him meet with grade levels in smaller groups. We
wish he could have spent all day in our classroom. The kids were
very excited and were pumped to be authors themselves.”
With younger readers, my presentations often center
on the Candlewick poetry series, On the Farm, In the
Wild, In the Sea, On the Wing, In the Past, and In the
Woods. In the time we spend together, we discuss the
research and drafting process, such writerly elements
as figurative language, voice, rhyme, meter, and
whatever might come up through student questions. The session ends with our writing a poem together. Teachers who wish to engage their students in post-visit enrichment activities, can download the free teacher’s guide, geared to Common Core standards, and a treasure trove of lesson plans and worksheets designed to help students get the most out of poetry.
“David Elliott’s genuine and humorous demeanor highly engaged our students as he spoke to them about his life and writing process. His presentation appealed to all of our student groups, grades eight through twelve. He was easy and flexible to work with and left our students inspired and excited about the possibilities of writing their own novels someday. Setting up his visit was a breeze; we would have him again any day!”
My goal is to leave middle and high schoolers energized not only about the possibilities of the written word, but also about themselves and their world. Using either Bull or Voices: The Final: Hours of Joan of Arc as a model, and weaving biographical elements from my own life, I discuss such issues as the writing process, the author/editorial relationship, the often misunderstood concept of inspiration, and the importance of asking the right question.
"David‘s Zoom visit was the highlight of my class’s semester. Not only did he discuss the brilliance behind Voices and Bull, he addressed timely YA lit issues with sensitivity. Moreover, he took time to listen to my students, making sure he understood their questions and statements, and responded with honesty and kindness. The entire call was inspiring; he left my students and me with a sense of hope and empowerment."
Visits to college classrooms usually begin with a brief 20” presentation. The topic varies depending on the class and whatever issues the professor wishes me to focus on. I find the most fruitful visits occur when there is plenty of time for student questions, which I do my best to answer as thoroughly as I can and as honestly as I dare. My goal is always to demystify the idea of writing as a gift and place it where it firmly belongs. To quote James Baldwin, “Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond
talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance.”
VISITING WRITER/WRITER IN RESIDENCE
"It was a pleasure to have David Elliott in residence at Truman State University (Missouri's premier liberal arts and sciences university and the only highly selective public institution in the state)."
"As the Clay B. Ofstad endowed Writer-in-Residence, Mr. Elliott has not been forgotten by the BFA in Creative Writing students who learned so much from him in a variety of genres. A tender and giving writer and teacher, he's truly a great guy to have on campus."
Having taught creative writing at both undergraduate and graduate level –I have been a faculty mentor in an MFA program in creative writing for more than fifteen years -- I know that spending time with emerging writers is both a responsibility and a privilege.
As a visiting writer, I work with students with as much humor, honesty, and knowledge as I can to help them experience the wisdom in E.L. Doctorow’s encouraging quote. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
“David Elliott was a featured speaker at the NH Library Conference. He talked about the influence of public libraries on his life and on his decision to become a writer. In a packed room of primarily children’s librarians, David amused and inspired everyone present with his moving story. His warm and easy manner captivated the audience who responded with lots of questions and comments. His program earned rave reviews from conference attendees, many of whom cited it as their favorite presentation at the event."
Below you’ll find a couple of descriptions of recent talks.
SCROOGE MCDUCK CHANGED MY LIFE
Inspiration. Where does it come from? A classic book. Yes. A trip to the museum. Sure.
Opera. Why not? But it can also come from a milk carton, a tabloid, a television commercial. This talk encourages anyone who puts books in the hands of children to have faith in both the child and the book, and illustrates that whether the child is reading Captain Underpants or The Secret Garden, good, even great, things can come of it.
I LOVE LIBRARIES or WHY I BECAME A WRITER
This talk is an homage to a place where I spent many hours as a young person, the public library of my childhood. Its purpose is to thank librarians for the vital, often forgotten work they do, and to demonstrate that though we are living in a time when budgets are being slashed, a dedicated librarian can change a young person’s life.
ON THE WRITING OF VOICES: THE FINAL HOURS OF JOAN OF ARC
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc won the Claudia Lewis Award for Best Poetry Book of the Year and was a finalist for The American Library in Paris Book Prize, yet, I am the least likely person to have written such a book. This talk discusses the challenges of writing about the Maid, a teenage girl who because she heard voices led a king’s army and ended The One Hundred Years War. Five hundred years later she became a saint, and is often held up as an iconic figure of the Women’s Movement. How was she able to accomplish the impossible? And how, six hundred years later, was I able to write about her? These are some of the questions this talk tries to answer.
Schools within a 2-hour drive from my home in Warner, NH
Full day (up to 4 presentations): $1500
Schools more than a 2-hour drive from my home in Warner, NH
Full day (up to 4 presentations): $1800 day (plus travel and hotel accommodations, when necessary)
Writer in Residence, keynotes, public library, evening, and after-school presentations please contact me for details.
Virtual visits: Contact me with what you have in mind and we’ll work something out.