Thursday, November 8, 2007

Talking With Kids About Writing

Within the last month, I've had a few opportunities to talk with middle school kids about writing one's personal story. Writing is so second-nature to me that I was a bit surprised how onerous most kids find the dreaded writing assignment. Kind of like that scene from the musical "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" where the Peanuts characters have to write a 100-page book report on Peter Rabbit.

Now, as a teenager, I played "Lucy" in that production. I still remember the song..."Peter Rabbit is this stupid book about this stupid rabbit who steals vegetables from other people's gardens... 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15, 16,17...83 words to go..." That pretty much represents the tenor of the classes I attended. Here are a few of the misconceptions these kids have about writers.

Myth # 1: Writer's write once and get it right the first time. Boy, did I dispel that myth, much to the pleasure of their teachers. I had every student write down my mantra: The best part of writing is rewriting. I explained it is in the honing of one's words, the magic occurs. You no longer are thinking about the story and plot, you're thinking about characterization, tenor, and tone.

Myth #2: All authors are rich. J.K. Rowling is their standard for author income. Now, I suppose I should have said "It's not about the money; it's about the craft." But why lie? Do I hope to live solely off my fiction writing someday? Absolutely! Am I fortunate that I make my daily living as a writer (even if that writing consists of business collaterals?) Absolutely!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your blog--several entries. I'm glad you are talking to kids about writing. I can do so much for one's life. And we both know it can be a great vocation or avocation. If you talk to older kids, kids who might be getting serious about their writing, I hope you'll recommend The Frugal Editor. It talks about lots of things that their English teachers should be teaching them but aren't.
    That's not the book's focus, but it does do that.LOL.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Your fellow Authors Den Author