Whenever I visit a new school, my contact for the day inevitably mentions how excited the students are to meet me, (always a good thing), then they thank me for taking the time to visit.
It's almost as if they think I'm the one doing them a favor.
A cynical crowd would argue I do such visits for the book sales alone, or else as attempts to grow my audience.
I'll not deny both are added benefits, but the true answer for why I enjoy school visits lies in something far more simple.
Before I began my two-week tour, several friends mentioned to me that some of these students I would meet with needed me.
Understand I'm not so arrogant as to believe such a notion, but I did find the idea of need interesting.
A writer's life can be a lonely one. Stuck in an office, man-cave, or otherwise, you're often left alone with only the voices in your head for conversation. And while I've certainly had some interesting conversations with such voices (as my books will prove), I've found the actor in me cannot go for too long without requiring me to reenter the real world and feed off the energy of others.
I say feed because, unless you're a self-sustaining robot - (which would be awesome), we all need fuel to keep us going.
The simple truth is, I need these school visits and meeting with students to keep me going during those actor hibernation periods when it's the writer's time to hole away and work.
One of my favorite movies is Christopher Nolan's The Prestige. It's a film about dueling magicians, each wishing to become the more renowned. There is a fantastic scene where one magician taunts his fallen foe with the notion that everything he pursued, all the sacrifices he made, they were all for nothing.
His nemesis says the following:
"You never understood why we did this. The audience knows the truth. The world is simple. It's miserable. Solid. Solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second... then you can make them wonder. And then...then you got to see something very special. It was... it was the look on their faces..."
Every entertainer knows that look.
When you show someone something they're not accustomed to seeing...prove something to them they didn't believe possible a few seconds ago. You make them gasp and perk up. Lean forward.
That look is why I don't just enjoy school visits and interacting with students.
I need them.
My sincerest thanks to all the students, teachers, librarians, and otherwise who made these school visits possible. You've certainly given me fuel and to spare for the lonely nights of writing ahead.
Author. Actor. Rascal.