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The week that Year 7 students returned to school, we also welcomed internationally acclaimed author Kirsty Murray as their 2020 Writer in Residence. Initially, Year 7 Zoomed with Kirsty, asking complex questions about her life and work as an author. Next it was time to focus on their creative writing skills in the "Places of their Heart" workshop. 

Students attended these workshops in their English classes where they are continuing to develop the creative writing they began and practice their "hot" writing skills. Students are currently producing beautiful pieces of work, a few which have been shared below.

Hot Writing 

To get the ball rolling, Kirsty asked students to writing continuously for three minutes. No overthinking, no eraser, "hot" writing. Kirsty invited a "wolf" into the classroom. It was two metres high, named by the students and it roamed around the classroom nibbling fingers if anyone dared to stop writing. Kirsty explained this wolf was a physical manifestation of a writer’s fear of getting started or writer’s block. It was a frenzied three minutes, as no-one ventured to stop.

Places of the Heart

When developing the premise of The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie Kirsty was inspired by her grandmother’s dining room, each wall covered in a large seasonal mural. This dining room appears at a pivotal point in the novel and Kirsty emphasised the importance of setting your narrative in a place you could see, touch, feel, taste and hear. 

For their final writing activity, students were asked to write about a place special to them. Somewhere they had been many times before. Some choose their grandmother’s house, an old bedroom or a favourite beach. We all had to close our eyes, a perfect opportunity to escape our 5km. When we looked left and right what did we see? When we looked down did we see carpet or grass? Sky or a fan? We all took a big sniff – was that someone cooking? It was so quiet in our classroom but what could we hear laughing? A bird squawking? Could you taste the salty beach air on your lips? Snap! Kirsty clapped her hands. We were back in the classroom. It was time to write. 

Alexia Gibbons
Teacher Librarian

The Blossom Tree

The buds on the blossom tree only bloomed at the start of spring, shades of pale pink filled the tree for two weeks until they wilted away again. Sophie knew during that time some sort of magic began to make its way through her house, a happy light that could brighten even the saddest of days. When she was sleeping she could feel it flowing through her bones, as a fish swims through the sea. Sophie peeked outside from her window everyday noticing the slightest sparkle, glow from the tree. Sophie kept quiet about it, she believed no one would understand what enchantments are held inside the tree.

Amelie (Year 7)

Granny's old house 

Granny's old house has always smelt like her perfume. She must do something like 20 sprays. But there's something so comforting about that smell. It reminds me of her it reminds me of her presence. Walking through the living room I see even more china ornaments than ever. I see pictures of seas, ships and many other things. I don't think I've ever been to her house and there wasn't classical music playing. Today it's an upbeat happy song that I think she's played before. I run my hands across her kitchen bench and I know she's been cooking because there is now flour on my hands. My Granny is the best cook she has so many amazing treats and dishes. This is what I love the most about her house it's uniquely hers not her sisters not one of her friends. She fills it with things she loves and I think that is so special. 

I head on out to my favourite part of her house. Right near the swing that I used when I was two is a small tree. I love to sit under this tree listening to the sounds of the birds and the outside world. I love it when Granny is out hanging the washing. She is so specific about how she hangs her clothes it's actually calming. She does them in colour order darker at the back lighter at the front. My Granny is a very special person and this house is her special place. This house is my special place and that will never change.

Georgia (Year 7)

The Cottage

Gravel crunched under our tyres as the car turned to go down the driveway. The trees brushed against the window while the neighbour’s cows watched, sleepy in the midday sun. Down the long driveway we went. The smell of smoke from the barbeque and the wood fire already in the air. Looking around I could see the pile of wood for tonight’s bonfire, the tall trees shading everyone’s cars, the big shed with my great uncle Tim’s cars, the ride-on lawn mower, and the old toys. We parked the car and stepped out onto the pine needle-covered ground. My sister and I raced towards our cousins and greetings filled the air as we went inside to find our grandparents. My cousin Georgia and I stepped onto the warm stone steps and walked through the already opened door. Looking around I saw the old wooden school desk and the old armchairs with hunting patterns on them sitting in front of the fireplace. Uncle Tim was in one and my grandpa was in the other. We said hello to them before going around into the kitchen. Our grandma was in there with my Aunt Rachel making lunch. Georgia and I said hello then grabbed a glass of lemonade each before taking the cutlery and plates and putting them on the large wooden table that was in front of the tall cupboard that was probably antique. After that was done, we went down the hallway, peering into the bathroom with the strangely carpeted floor and the bedroom with the paintings. We found a bat behind one once. We called it Victoria. Going back into the hallway, Georgia and I looked into the cupboard of junk that always smelt of mothballs. We went back out and walked over to the shed, chatting about random things along the way. Opening the door, we saw Uncle Tim’s cars gleaming in the low light. We went up the steep staircase and opened the heavy trapdoor, securing it to the wall. Looking around, we smiled at the familiar sight of the old-fashioned rocking horse and the outdated train tracks. A sudden noise came from the unused fireplace. We ran over to it in time to see a possum crawl up it. Georgia and I sat in front of the fireplace for ages, trying to get a glimpse of it again. After a while we were called down for lunch. We all sat down at the table or around the room because there were so many of us. Quiet talk filled the room. We would probably have fruit salad for dessert. It was the only thing we could all eat. Then we might go on the lawn mower. It could carry five of us at the same time. Or maybe we’ll build a cubby out of sticks against the tree. Whatever we did, it would be nice. I looked around the table and smiled. Life was peaceful in that moment.

Bella (Year 7)