Local author visits St. C. schools

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Robin Yocum, an author of four books and a former T-L staffer, made a visit to St. Clairsville middle school and high school on Wednesday. Yocum, who grew up in Brilliant, spent the day among seventh, eighth, and eleventh-grade students discussing his life, his books, and conducting writing workshops.

Eighth-grade students listened intently to Yocum’s writing workshop about becoming better, more creative writers. He gave tips on getting started, switching up formulaic writing methods and being descriptive. Yocum prompted the students to write several sentences that could become the start of short stories. He then had them read their ideas aloud, and gave tips on how to make improvements.

Before the writing workshop, Yocum spoke to high school students about achieving success in life and discussed his own experiences in becoming a published author.

“I thought it went really well. They’ve been very attentive, and asked a lot of great questions, and seemed genuinely interested,” said Yocum. “I tried to talk a little about succeeding in life, not necessarily just writing books, and about chasing your dreams, not letting people tell you that you can’t do something or can’t achieve something.”

Yocum also discussed overcoming rejection, a theme prevalent throughout his novel, “The Essay.” Jacqui Sall’s 11th-grade class read the novel before Yocum’s visit.

“I’m trying to make sure everyone understands, in life, you’re going to have a lot of hits. It’s important to keep coming back and don’t worry about the failures, focus on the successes,” Yocum said. “I could wallpaper a gymnasium with rejection letters from my earlier stuff. Even though it stings, you’ve got to keep coming along.”

Yocum’s last workshop of the day was interrupted by a fire alarm which forced students and staff to evacuate for approximately five minutes. However, he resumed instructing the class quickly and managed to finish with students having written the beginnings of their potential short stories.

“I think it was nice. He talked to the kids about the habits that they form, that they’re going to need later on. He covered the next couple of years of life and how important they are in determining where they’re going to go, how successful they’re going to be,” said teacher Heidi Mooney. “Making a difference, that’s the big thing for me. We [teachers] are here because we care. The story, ‘The Essay,’ was so inspirational because it was about two people in the world of education who made a difference in a child’s life.”

Yocum also visited the St. Clairsville Public Library Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. for a book reading and signing.

Warner may be reached at mwarner@timesleader