IF YOU HAVE ANY YOUNG FRIENDS WHO ASPIRE TO BECOME WRITERS, THE SECOND GREATEST FAVOR YOU CAN DO THEM IS TO PRESENT THEM WITH COPIES OF THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE.
THE FIRST GREATEST, OF COURSE,
IS TO SHOOT THEM NOW, WHILE THEY'RE HAPPY.
When I was kid, lots of people encouraged my writing. Teachers gave me As, friends wanted to act out the stories I wrote, and family members patted me on the back.
As I got older, a lot of that support faded. Reality stepped in. An artist friend and I joked we'd put our refrigerator boxes together, start a starving artists condo complex. Teachers and family members told me I couldn't make a living at writing.
Today, most of those people show little interest in my writing. It's rare that they ask how the novel's going or tell me if they enjoyed the last published story. Of course, this isn't everyone, but when a lot of the people who used to be supportive and encouraging stop, it's a big blow to your confidence, to your faith in yourself and your abilities.
Have I proved them wrong? Not in the way I thought I would. They were right in the sense that I don't make much money - if any - from my writing. And it's been a hard trek, full of holes and bumps that maybe wouldn't have been there if I'd listened.
But I proved to myself that I can live a life of my choosing. It would be wonderful to have their interest and support and encouragement again, but I no longer need it. I found those things in myself. I found them in other places and in other people, like my husband and all of you out there who read my posts and stories and who take the time to comment and email.
So, if a young - or older! - person wanted my thoughts on a writing life, I'd encourage them, in a realistic way, by sharing the pros and the cons. I'd point out options and opportunities. I'd say that if writing is truly important to them, if it's a part of who they are, then they'll find a way to write, whether it's as a full-time freelancer, a part-time novelist or a poetry penner during lunch breaks. If you're truly a writer, you will write.
Do you have any young people - or anyone! - in your life who want to be writers? What would you tell them?