Today I visited Broadoak Primary School in Ashton-Under-Lyne. I was originally supposed to be there on World Book Day (3rd March), but I couldn’t go as I was in the early stages of my tests.
Then I rearranged the visit for Wednesday (two days ago), but my throat was so closed up that I could barely talk. So, I went today.
It was hard. Very hard.
When I visit a school, I usually run a series of creative writing workshops for the pupils, then get everyone together in the hall to give my hour-long author talk, describing how I became an author in a fun, interactive way.
Yesterday, I couldn’t do those things.
I ran four sessions with different year groups, talking about my career with the help of a PowerPoint presentation – and that pushed my ability to talk aloud to the very limit. My throat kept catching, and I had a lot of difficulty pronouncing certain words and phrases – including, rather unhelpfully, ‘Scream Street‘.
By the time I left the school at 3.30pm, my throat was ragged. I was in a lot of pain.
I won’t be able to do any more schools until I’m 100% over this. Which is a big problem.
Visiting schools makes up half of my income, and cancer has taken that away in one go. That’s a terrifying thought.
Plus, finances aside, I love school visits. I love helping pupils with their creative writing and making them laugh from the moment I arrive. I love inspiring reluctant readers to give one of my books a try, and then receiving emails from them afterwards saying how much they’ve enjoyed reading for the very first time. Visiting schools is an incredible thing to do with your time.
In the past ten years, I’ve visited at least 70 schools a year.
700 school visits.
And cancer has taken all that away from me, too. For the foreseeable future, at least.
As if I didn’t hate it enough already.
But, it wasn’t all bad. I came away from Broadoak piled high with thank you and get well cards – and this amazing Scream Street hat, courtesy of the pupils in year 5…
Could this be the one to wear when my hair goes?