Spotlight On: The Mark Twain House & Museum’s Write to the Point!

NeighborhoodStudiosIconSomehow we have already arrived at the halfway mark for Neighborhood Studios (and summer!) and with three weeks to go we visit our third studio partner, The Mark Twain House & Museum.

Aspiring writers, take note!  This group of apprentices has been honing their journalism skills, interviewing a whole host of characters, collecting research and editing their own and each others words.  This is the Mark Twain House & Museum’s first year with Neighborhood Studios and all thirteen apprentices are thrilled to join the program!

Jackie Majerus is the Mark Twain House & Museum‘s first Master Teaching Artist and she took a generous moment or two to do a bit of writing for our blog.  Jackie has these writers active as ever, touring Hartford, collaborating on projects and preparing for communication in whatever career path they choose!

What are the goals for your studio this summer?

NS Write to the Point! T-Shirt_FINAL

The Twain Studio apprentices are learning the craft of storytelling through creative non-fiction writing, interviewing and research. Each is working on an individual writing project of his or her own choosing and also is participating in regular reporting opportunities. They’re developing the skills needed to conduct an effective interview, to take useful notes and accurate quotes as well as to gather historical research – all important elements of compelling non-fiction. They’re working on their own, in pairs and in groups to build confidence and learn how to collaborate. They’re practicing peer editing and also learning how to work one-on-one with an editor to polish their stories for publication.

What’s an average day like at your studio?

No two days are alike at Twain Studios! Much like professional writers, these apprentices are learning to seize the opportunities of each day, interviewing and writing about the people and places they encounter. They’ve posed questions to the governor of Bermuda, to the world’s strongest librarian, and to a student journalist visiting from Uganda, among others. They’ve toured the Mark Twain House as well as the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, roamed the Nook Farm neighborhood, attended the Stephen King appearance at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and even had the excitement of meeting him. They’ve quizzed Mark Twain experts and other professionals in pursuit of their stories and are regularly experiencing the thrill of being published on the studio blog, www.TwainStudios.com.

What about working with students in the Greater Hartford region inspires you? 

I’m inspired by the enthusiasm, ambition, diligence and work ethic that I see in my students. They’re an incredibly talented bunch of young writers and are making the most of this opportunity. It’s enormously rewarding to see all the members of this diverse group forming real friendships, treating each other with respect and compassion and genuinely having fun together. It’s a joy to work with them and I’m honored to be their teacher.

D72_7030How do you see the exploration of an artistic discipline as well as career skills impacting the way these students might look towards the future?

These apprentices are preparing themselves for any number of future careers by honing their writing skills, since good communication is crucial in any discipline. Knowing how to ask effective questions and obtain information – and then being able to summarize and synthesize the material for others to use is a valuable skill as well. The career skills workshops are a good complement, especially since they focus on effective communication through activities such as resume writing and job interviews. These young writers may end up with wildly different careers, but I am confident each of them will build on the lessons they learned this summer.

A round of applause for Jackie to thank her for sharing the insider’s view of Write to the Point!  To read more by these young writers be sure to visit their blog, www.TwainStudios.com, and come to their Neighborhood Studios showcase event, Write to the Point! Publication Unveiling on August 7 at 6 pm at the Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford.  Admission is free.  For more information visit www.LetsGoArts.org/NS

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