On Wednesday, elementary students at Elba Central School got to visit with acclaimed children's author Mary Amato. She resides in Silver Springs, Maryland, and is the award-winning author of nine books for young people, as well as numerous plays, poems and articles for publications such as Muse, Cicada, The Washington Post, Parenting, and Mothering.
Elba school librarian Christine Ferris says she likes to have a different author come speak to the students every year.
"I got interested in [Mary Amato's] books when I read The Word Eater," says Ferris. "She writes very funny books."
The visit was arranged through the BOCES "Visiting Authors" program. The program sends suggestions to schools of various authors, and makes all of the traveling and "touring" arrangements. Amato will be visiting several other area schools as well during her visit.
During the presentation at Elba, Amato spoke to the children about her career, her life, and, foremost, her experiences with writing when she was their age.
"I tell them that I was afraid of writing," says Amato. "I thought I had no ideas, no imagination. Imagination is like a muscle. The more I wrote, the better I got. It's like sports. You wouldn't expect an olympic athlete to get a triple lutz the first time. You have to keep working on it."
She says that the turning point in her writer's block was when she was 7, when her mother gave her a journal (which she is holding in the photo above).
"My mother gave me a notebook and told me to record a trip to California. I liked the fact that I could go back and relive the moments through records of it. That's when I got hooked on writing."
She suggests that aspiring young writers do the same.
"Get a little notebook and write in it. You don't have to write in it every day, just write down some of your feelings and ideas."
More information about Mary Amato and how to contact her can be found on her website, www.maryamato.com. The website contains information about Mary, her books and how to contact her, as well as a new video blog documenting her writing process.