Kelly Ann Jacobson: Classrooms are for Queer Stories and Queer Writers
By Ashlyn Petro and Dr. Kelly Ann Jacobson
This month, Dr. Kelly Ann Jacobson, award-winning author of the queer YA reimaginings TINK AND WENDY and ROBIN AND HER MISFITS, gave an assembly speech to Virginia Episcopal School on a surprising topic: “How to Fail at Being a Writer.”
In her presentation, Kelly walked the school through the six major ways she learned to fail, from getting rejected to trying many other majors and career paths along the way. In the process, Kelly learned the most valuable lesson of all: that getting rejected and struggling to make it as a writer are the things that actually taught her how to succeed in a field where daily rejection is just part of the normal job duties. This is a lesson that can be applied to any field, not just writing, and is especially important for high schoolers on the precipice of choosing their career paths or selecting their majors to hear.
Kelly also participated in a book club talk about TINK AND WENDY with V.E.S.’s GSA students after the assembly.
Kelly learned the most valuable lesson of all: that getting rejected and struggling to make it as a writer are the things that actually taught her how to succeed in a field where daily rejection is just part of the normal job duties.
The following week, Kelly returned to give workshops to ninety of their English students on how to write retellings.
In the workshops, Kelly started by asking students to start with something unexpected: a list of things they wished they could change about the world. Then, she had them draw their favorite place. Finally, they selected a character from their literature classes and did some character-building exercises, and then they began the process of “retelling” that character’s story with the selected theme and setting in mind. In this way, Kelly emphasized why she returns again and again to the idea of the retelling: using a classic tale to talk about something she wants to say about our contemporary society, from toxic masculinity to the importance of found family.
Now more than ever it’s so important, especially for young people, to see a queer person stand up and say “Hey, here is some stuff about books, and also I’m queer and living my best life, and you can, too.” Kelly is doing her own fantastic and much appreciated part by being a proud and loving voice for writers and readers (no matter the age) looking for hope in these tumultuous times.
Kelly taught a similar workshop at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and is slated to host another workshop in the near future at North Wales Library in Pennsylvania. She will also lease readings and signings in VA, DC, and PA. Keep an eye on our events page to never miss an event with Dr. Jacobson!Share This!