A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to the Creative Studies class at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, California. Dos Pueblos is where I went to high school, and the class is taught by Clark Sayre, who’s a long time friend of my family. I had a great time, and loved talking to the students about how I went from sitting in DP classrooms to seeing my novels shelved in the school library.
Afterward, I was touched that the class wrote me thank you notes.
From Emma Scigliano:
I never really understood what great lengths authors went to when writing their stories. It’s amazing how many times you rewrite a novel before publishing it!
It amazes me as well. But revision is a good thing.
From Chloe Housh:
It’s cool that you like Kurt Vonnegut and wrote a terrible romance novel in high school because those are things that my friends and I like.
You mean I would fit in at Dos Pueblos today? Fantastic.
From Brandon Gonzalez:
I have one question that I hadn’t asked though. Will you ever write an autobiography?
If I do, it will feature the epic morning I returned to DP and the Creative Studies class schooled me on the source of the quote, “The fault… is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
From Yasmine Kadhim:
You have shown me that it is not the end of the world if I don’t have a completed novel yet.
Yasmine, I love your drive and passion. But cool those jets, girl! Writing novels takes time and study and practice, and high school is just the first step on the road to becoming a writer.
From Olivia Merritt:
I’m glad you accomplished your dream and do what you love. I, myself, like horror and gory stuff. Although I don’t write much I draw a lot. I have some good book ideas, but just can’t think of a good plot.
Don’t worry, Olivia. When I was in high school I couldn’t think of a good plot either. I have notebooks full of awful stories to prove it. Learning how to think of plots takes time, and experience.
From Erika Cruz:
When you were telling the writers 101 basics of the Protagonist and Antagonist, it helped me grasp the concept in dance. [...] Your advice really helped me think of switching it up, creating my own flare on dance.
I’m so excited to hear this. Storytelling crosses genres and disciplines. It’s inherent in all forms of human creative expression.
From Emma Lebell:
I am very impressed that you managed to speak to Stephen King and not completely self destruct.
From Rafael Rios:
I saw the things you talked about in books I read. I saw the thing about both the protagonist and antagonist thinking they’re right.
Literary analysis. Fantastic. Keep reading, and you’ll see it again and again. In movies and TV series, too.
From Ethan Ibarra:
You also taught us what a good novel needs, and one of your favorite authors is Ray Bradbury, which is an automatic plus.
Glad to hear it.
From Elijah Fitoh:
When people show that they’ve had to struggle to get where they are and that they think it was worth it, that’s what makes me want to keep trying.
This makes my entire trip worth it. Thank you so much.
All the letters were wonderful. I don’t have room to quote from every one of them, but thanks as well to Natalie Moreno, Asia Ballew, Anne Bailey, Lenlen Pinaoan, Jacob Alexander, Katie Vineall, Landyn, and Cayla Henry.
Keep writing, if that’s where your passion is. Keep dancing, drawing, singing, running, or whatever makes you happy.