To all my kid writers out there, keep on writing. The younger you start; the more experience you’ll get. :)
*This is a repost of the post “Kids Can’t Write” published on August 2, 2012, enjoy!*
“What’s next?” said Novelist Tom Robbins “Kiddie architects, juvenile dentists, 11-year-old rocket scientists? Any parent who thinks that the crafting of engrossing, meaningful, publishable fiction requires less talent and experience than designing a house, extracting a wisdom tooth, or supervising a lunar probe is, frankly, delusional.”
“There are no prodigies in literature,” Mr. Robbins said. “Literature requires experience, in a way that mathematics and music do not.”
This is a quote from the NY Times article “Young Writers Dazzle Publisher (Mom and Dad)” that was published on March 31, 2012.
Why, I ask, can there not be prodigies in literature? Why is it that so many people cannot stand the fact that there are children out there doing things some adults never have?
My first instinct would be to say that it is merely concern, concern that these “child authors” are not taking the “lit world” seriously. That is a statement I do understand. There are numerous children who have their parents pay for them to self-publish a book. Those children write their stories and then they expect their parents to shovel over hundreds or maybe even a thousand dollars to get their book published. That is so silly. Why would a parent ever want to spend money like that on something their child has worked hard at when there is a very high possibility that the only profits will come from friends and family members. How ridiculous…right?
Reading this article only made me wish that I had been as dedicated a writer and that self-publishing had been as prevalent when I was younger. Had I and had it, instead of having my parents spend money on the various activities that I (and most kids) tried out, I could be a published author.
Having just finished writing my first book, Blood of Isis, and now on to starting my next one, I can already tell that my writing has improved. When I noticed that I was shocked! I write all of the time, for school publications, on my blog, in my diary but somehow just by finishing writing one book I have seen more improvements in my writing than I have with all of those other areas combined.
There is just something about sitting down and writing a book that can really improve not only your writing but your character as well; writing builds character! I did theater for years, all throughout middle and high school, now in college I have only done makeup for one show. When I tell this to people they often think that I wasted my time but what they do not realize is that just because you do not go on to become a world-renown actor (or author) does not mean you have wasted your time. By doing theater I learned to always be fully present, how to carry myself, how to speak, how to lie, and how to imitate accents…the list goes on.
By writing and publishing a book these young prodigies, yes Mr. Robbins they are prodigies, learn so many more things than those that are shown by their profits made.
It is just like what Mr. Heckmann said about his son Ben’s self-published books, “He can play basketball at home, or he can join a team; here he kind of joined a team,” Mr. Heckmann said. “This is Ben’s basketball.”
It is time that we as a nation or at the very least as bookworms, aspiring writers, and authors realize that these children have talents they bring to the writing world. For too long have the literary elites held they keys to the publishing world. In my honest opinion, why I really think so many adults in the literary world object: FEAR.
They are afraid that some kid is going to gain more notoriety than they have. However I want you to know there is nothing to fear. These kids are not going to gain more notoriety than you have…why??? Because, they already have. By publishing at an early age, not just writing (I am sure many authors will say they have been writing since they were little), while these kids might not reach “success” they are learning about the world of publishing. This means that by the time they “come of age” they will be very advanced writers.
As for the comment about child architects, etc… while we may not have met one yet who is to say it cannot happen. If a person has the will, the drive, they can achieve what some consider to be impossible.
I understand that literature requires experience but it is not as if these children are writing about adults, I am sure they could care less about the kind of “quality writing” that could earn its place in the literary canon. Rather they are writing about people their age, who have experiences the things they have experienced. I get that there is something powerful about being an adult who has “been there done that” and looking back and being able to write about those experiences. However that does not mean we should discredit those who attempt to or do write about the things they are going through.
I have read books about children or teenagers written by adults that while good feel sort of aloof and too removed from the situation, and I have read books by children and teenagers about children and teenagers that, while not necessarily having the “literary genius or language” that a book by Dickens has, do have an insight into the adolescent mind that few adults can capture.
These kids are not trying to reinvent the wheel all they want is the chance to have their voices heard. Unfortunately most agents and publishers will not give them a chance, no matter how good their book is. Like I have said before I have not and probably will never see what the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird or The Mortal Instruments series looked like, for all we know we might have consider it to be sub par. However someone gave those books a chance, a chance that many young authors today never receive. So the next time you say that kids can’t write take a look in the mirror because once you were a kid, you had dreams, you had goals and you believed that anything was possible.
Don’t you dare belittle what a child has accomplished just because it was something you never managed to do.
I would love to hear what you have to say about this topic :)