Category Archives: Workshops

Last CWC Class

I had my last CWC class last Saturday. Now, for those of you who have just tuned in, CWC is the creative writing school that I’ve been teaching at for the past 15 Saturdays. I taught two Saturday classes, and they’ve both just had their wrap-up parties.

It was hard to say goodbye to these two groups of students. My afternoon group was comprised of grades 4-6, all boys except one girl – and I watched them grow as writers. One boy who started out telling me that he was only there because his parents were forcing him, ended the course with one of the longest novels in the class. Another boy who had begun absolutely unable to understand most of the class, wound up writing nearly 40 pages of a book – and he’s only in grade 4! The lone girl began the class quiet, shy and afraid to turn in homework. In the end she wrote several short stories and openly participated in group activities. While I enjoyed all the students in the class, it was especially cool to watch these three improve as much as they did.

We ended the 15-weeks with pizza and a celebration. My students gave me a card, and as I read it one shouted, “Hey! He’s not crying!” Believe me when I say it was hard not to be choked with emotion as I said goodbye to all of them. Saturdays will feel strange not making the trip out to North Vancouver for class.

My second class were grades 6-8, and it was comprised of almost equal boys and girls. The first class no one spoke to each other, no one looked at each other, and no one wanted to share anything they quickly scribbled on paper. As the weeks went by, they all started forming friendships and bonds; even the ones that only had writing in common and nothing else. It was awesome to see them begin to share their work with each other, and even more awesome to have them share their work with me! There were times while reading their stories that I had to remind myself that they were only 12 or 13, as their writing was so good.

We ended that morning with a farewell party as well. We shared donuts and chicken wings (it didn’t help that I was suffering from food poisoning that day!), and enjoyed each other’s company for one last time. I feel blessed to have had a chance to have been a part of their lives.

The best part for me was the chance to share with them the (FINALLY!) release of Pyre. I had the opportunity to show them what dedication and perseverance to the craft can produce. Each one of them learned the value of writing each day, and of reading each day. And each one of them got a chance to see the result of what that dedication has done for me – it’s made me a published author.

A Great Review

What one student had to say…

In school, we are told to suppress our creativity. We have to write generic essays, follow one formula for math and learn certain words in French class. Last spring, I got the wonderful opportunity to go to a writers conference. Each student at the conference got to go to two workshops, one of them being James McCann’s. The workshop was filled with excitement, because all of that suppressed creativity was being released. His workshop helped thirty potential writers find another way to write.

After the workshop I sent him my story that I had been working on for quite some time, Alone in the Dark. The next day, he sent me a list of suggestions that I could use to make my story better, as well as a list of places to get my story published. Long story short, my story got published in Wet Ink and Potluck Magazine. Without James’ help my story would have not been published, let alone I would not have known where to go to get it published.

-Sarah, a student from

the Surrey Young Author’s

Conference 2006