Meeting Overview: September 5, 2007

Wow, we had a large crowd today, Wednesday, September 5, 2007! I hope that everybody decides to stay and write often this year! First off, we had a sign-up sheet and Mr. Gifford said that about 40 people were at the meeting! After signing up and settling down, we started discussing what the club was and a few things that we are going to try out this year.

1. Published End-of-the-Year Book – Mr. Gifford said that the books for the members of last year should be coming in soon! We will start the preparing for this year’s, End-of-the-Year Book around January and will hopefully have it completed before school lets out so we won’t have to deal with it during the summer when people are away and hard to get a hold of. Scholarships will be available for anybody who will have trouble paying to enter their writing into the End-of-the-Year Book, but we will not worry about that until much later in the year.

2. Introduction to the Club – First off, we are Magic Pens, a club where you can write about basically anything that you want. There are no grades, only encouragement. The theme this year will be posting short fictional pieces, preferably stories. We will usually have meetings about once a month, and although you do not really have to come to meetings becuase we have these Meeting Overviews and some videos of the meetings, it is reccomended that you try to make it. We have meetings over vacation breaks sometimes such as the summer, and we will even have them on weekends at places such as Bagel Stop/Book Nook or Main Street Books. Now that the new members are signed up, we will have to wait for your new blogs to come up. The time for new blogs to come up always differs, so just check back often. Once you have your blog, your username will be your school username with the password that you chose yourself. For example, my name is Noelle Brooks and I graduate in 2010, so my school username is 10broono. (It is the last two numbers of your graduation year, then the first four letters of your last name, and then the first two letters of your first name.)

3. Rules – If you would like to continue being a member of Magic Pens, you must keep your blog school-appropriate and cannot flame any teacher, student, etc. As Mr. Gifford said, “Don’t be stupid.” One person can bring down the whole group, so if you are doing anything very disrespectful, Mr. Gifford will delete your blog and remove you from the club. Although you can write an occasional journal entry, Mr. Gifford would like that none of you use your blog as an actual journal. Post stories, poems, essays, etc., but do not use your blog as a “real internet blog” is used with dairy entries for each day and such. You do have the power to delete and edit comments on your blog, but please only do so if the comment is very disrespectful, otherwise, let others keep their voices. You are allowed to post assignments for classes such as English, but Mr. Gifford will not “grade” it like your teacher will. Expect normal comments on any school assingment that you post. You are also allowed to write poetry in this club, and as Shaundra says, “Poetry can be critiqued!”

4. Goals – First off, since we have new members starting off a new year of Magic Pens, Mr. Gifford has asked us all, (new members and old,) to post an autobiography soon, even if it is just a repost of your one from last year. This is just so we can all get to know each other a little better. This year, Mr. Gifford really wants us to try and get published into newspapers and magazines. He is frequently posting magazine openings on his blog, so if you are interested, check by his blog every now and then. (He may even post them on the Magic Pens Website.) Another goal that Mr. Gifford wants us to acheive is to finish the stories that we start. Try to stay focused and write your entire story before you grow “bored” of it. At the end of last year, we were starting to get soft on our criticisms, giving out “warm fuzzies,” as Shaundra said. This year, try to criticize everything you read, even if it is a short comment. Point out what you think needs work, what was confusing, what was slow, etc. Also, try to stay friendly and polite through your comments, too. We don’t want to lose the great bonding friendship that we have here, so point out what you really liked also and don’t totally discourage somebody. We all want to improve our writing skills, and the only way to do that is to get suggestions on how to be better. Read often to get great writing ideas and to keep your mind open. Also, try to read a little bit from everyone’s blog every now, leaving a little comment behind. Remember that although grammar is important, you don’t always have to point it out. Word and sentence structure is the most important. Another thing that happened a lot last year that we would like to resolve is inactivity. Try to write fairly often and if you decide to quit Magic Pens, please tell someone so we can remove your blog. If you are going to be gone for a long period of time, however, such as when you move, become very ill, go on vacation, etc., also tell us so that we don’t accidently remove your blog thinking that you have grown inactive.

5. Writing Buddies – This year, Mr. Gifford would like to see the Writing Buddies work. We may be put into groups of four where you will especially have to pay attention and read the posts of your Writing Buddies, as they will do to you. You will still read the posts from other members who are not in your Writing Buddy group, however. Writing Buddies will be switched around throughout the year, most likely every six to eight weeks.

6. Official Magic Pens Website – Over the summer of last year, I created a website for Magic Pens that has become the official website. This website has a lot of information about Magic Pens and is currently only edited by Mr. Gifford and myself. The powers may extend to other members later however. On this website, you will find the Writing Buddies lists, The Club information, New Our World information, contests, Object of the Month, Word of the Month, Pick of the Month, a list of the blogs, tutorials and help on how to work and decorate your blog, etc. If you would like to see anything else on the website that is not already there, please comment. Any new news about Magic Pens will be listed on the website’s front page.

7. The Club Rebooted – Last year, Mr. Gifford began a story giving a few of the members in Magic Pens magical traits and abilities, telling the rest of us to join in anywhere and start writing. For example, I was a werewolf, Shaundra was a vampire, and Matt was a wizard. It was fun to read the same event through different points of view, but it soon fell apart due to the lack of a strong plot. This year, Mr. Gifford would like to reboot The Club including the new members and having a somewhat structured plot this time.

8. A New “Our World” – Our World was an interesting topic last year, but it was too open. We would like to start over and create a new “Our World”. Mr. Gifford has assigned Matt and me with the job of creating a new world, naming it, creating the land, drawing a map, creating some type of world story, etc. If you would like to help and be a part of the team, please comment.

9. T-Shirts/Hoodies –If enough people are interested this year, Mr. Gifford may try to order hoodies and t-shirts again.

10. Newspaper –The Minot Daily News would like to do another article on our club, this time including small writings from some of us on topics such as why we like the club, what we do in the club, etc. If you are interested, check by Mr. Gifford’s blog for more infromation and comment there.

11. Suggestions/Feedback – Magic Pens is always open to new ideas, suggestions, and comments. If you want to share your thoughts to make our club better, feel free to e-mail Mr. Gifford, comment on his blog, or comment on the Magic Pens Website.