Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Planning farewells

Tis the season of farewells -- end of term, of course, of year. Maybe I am a bit late in suggesting this to you now, maybe not: a class anthology to round out your course?

The important thing is to make a learning experience of it. Do NOT choose the samples of work, reproduce and put it together yourself. No, no, no.

Bring in anthologies from previous classes, or from other writing gatherings (the Arvon week I attended did one, and many medium-level competitions issue anthologies of winning entries). These show your class the range of simplicity (photocopied pages stapled together) to sophistication (a www.lulu.com booklet) so your students can decide what to do.

Then set out the editorial and production realities, and get the class to discuss and make decisions. This is what makes it a lesson in publishing, so that writing students may come to appreciate some of what publishers do for them. What size, how many pages = how many, how long contributions are.

Will there be a theme? New writing for the theme? Or selections of existing writing? What about a title? Cover design? Someone has to do table of contents. Someone(s) has to collect, collate and then number pages -- is it going to be done all in one style of font and layout? Therefore is proofreading needed?

And don't leave out the fun bit where writers get to write their own short author description for a listing at the back. Or front. Or at end/start of each piece.

And then there's reproduction. How many? Will your teaching institution do it? At no charge? Or do students have access to photocopying, or do they club money and take it to a copyshop?

Whew -- a lot of work. So it is not up to tutor but up to proud writer-students to do the work and learn from it. A class anthology makes a wonderful souvenir of the course for everyone -- including you, the tutor.

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