Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Writing While Young

This blog won't focus on writing and publishing. There are many talented writers doing that already, no doubt better than I could.

But since writing is what I do most days, it's going to come up as I blog about life. Today, for instance.

I like teenagers. I like their enthusiasm, their self-doubt or undue confidence, their exploration of themselves and their world. I like that so many experiment with writing, eagerly asking others to tell them if they're any good.

They're not. Oh, sure, once in a while the scene or chapter is something which isn't awful, but for the most part, they're missing two vital elements.

One, they don't have enough experience at life to be writing. They've never been in love or had their hearts broken, never gotten falling-down drunk, never chosen a literal life-or-death risk, never committed a wrong which is life-changing. This is good; you want teenagers to retain some of the fresh innocence of the children they so recently were. Those experiences, both good and bad, will come soon enough. And until they do, you shouldn't write about them. You can't write a good lovemaking scene if you've never been kissed.

Two, it seems many of them have been let down by their schools. It saddens me to see the many creative, bright teenagers who cannot write a simple paragraph with no mistakes. Not that I thought I'd see crisp lyricism, but come on, no mistakes is not an unreasonable expectation for someone in high school, especially someone who reads.

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