23 March 2016
A few days ago I taught at the opening day of the annual Young Authors Conference here in the Twin Cities. (The bulk of the event will happen in late May.) YAC has taken place for 26 straight years, and I’ve been there every single time. As ever, this was a wonderful opportunity to share the enthusiasm of over 1,000 young writers in grades 4-8. About 80 of them ended up in my sessions, and this year, the conference theme was “Why Write?”
In between bursts of speed writing from prompts (got to keep your chops in order), we became a temporary community and shared some of our answers to that question. Going in, I wondered whether a collection of early teens and ‘tweens—who were largely unknown to each other—would really be willing to open up about such a personal topic. To my joy, many were. Here are just a few of their responses [Note: stock photos are used below]:
Why do you write?
- It helps me make sense of the world.
- I want to shape things my way.
- My grandpa is a writer.
- Because that’s the way I figure things out.
Who do you write for?
- My friend, “Angie” (who was sitting nearby).
- I write for myself. I just like my stuff.
- For my family. I want them to be proud.
- For myself, so I can see what I think.
- I write for my dog. My stories are all about him.
- I write for my goldfish. He died.
Where do you want to go with your writing?
- I want to write lots of stories.
- To work in sports journalism.
- I plan to write dystopian mysteries.
- I have a whole bunch of ideas—should I put them all in my first book?
- I just want to keep on doing it and see what happens.
- Onto the next page!
Hey, I’m with that last comment. Keep the hand moving on the page—who knows what might come out?
Once again, those young writers have re-energized me for my own work. It’s such a joy to see their excitement, their concern to do the very best they can, their hunger to learn inside tips. And where else do you enter a room filling up with middle schoolers where early arrivals are all sitting at their desks, heads buried in heavy tomes?
Here’s to future literary accomplishments by young minds that are growing even as we speak . . .