Sunday, October 16, 2011

Workshops - Always a Learning Experience - Even for the Teacher

About three times a year I get together with a group of writers at the homestead of the founders of Highlights for Children magazine. The publication’s been around since 1946, so it’s fostered the careers of a great many writers. These days, in addition to the wonderful magazine, a book division, a web presence, and a lot more, Highlights has a non-profit side that provides dozens of workshops each year with the aim of improving the offerings of what’s being written for kids ( ). That’s how I met this group of people who’ve since dubbed us the Swaggers; we gathered two years ago for a workshop on writing novels for teenagers. It was obviously a success, because most of the group returned for a second round earlier this month.

I was technically still “the teacher” this time, but I didn’t feel like one at all. I always learn a lot from these workshops, but this time was particularly enriching. There’s been a lot of success from this group since the last time we met: a published novel, a published picture book, a number of projects that are ready to submit. Listening and participating in group discussions of the work was enlightening and uplifting. Can’t wait to do it again.

Here are my five favorite TV characters of all time:

Barney Fife
Ed Norton
Bugs Bunny
Lisa Simpson
George Castanza

Rich Wallace


  1. What?
    Not one of my top five in common, although I will admit Bugs could sneak into mine if I'm not paying attention.

    Brett or Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords?
    Teddy Bullpitt from Kingswood Country?
    Strop from The Paul Hogan Show?
    Ozzie Ostrich from Hey Hey Its Saturday?
    Aunty Jack from the Aunty Jack Show?

    If anyone has ever considered laying down the bucks for a Highlights workshop, you'd walk a long road before finding a better teacher/tour guide for your heroes journey.

  2. Okay here's my list. I will give you both Bugs he's kind of a given.

    Bill Haverchuck from Freaks and Geeks

    Ralph Wiggum from Simpsons

    Nancy Botwin from Weeds

    Pink Panther

  3. Bugs is great, but I've always been partial to the Road Runner.
    My faves: Hawkeye Pierce from Mash.
    Tony Soprano from The Sopranos.
    Mary Tyler Moore from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
    Phil Dunphy from Modern Family.
    Michael Landon from Little House on the Prairie. (I just loved his facial expressions - his whole face twinkles when he's playing the compassionate father.)

  4. I'll agree with Michael Landon, but for his role as Little Joe from Bonanza. And I'd add:
    Dr. Richard Kimble (The Fugitive-David Janssen version)
    Radar O'Reilly (from MASH)
    Lucy Ricardo
    Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS)

  5. Just finished War and Watermelon... Love the story and as per usual with Mr. Wallace it was just a great read, interesting characters great settings, and a great payoff for the reader.
    Thanks Rich, you continue to inspire and amaze.