“I don’t want to write.” That’s what I told my teacher in high school when she invited me to take a journalism class all those years ago. At 16, I didn’t think I would ever like to write. How wrong I was. So Bieber has a brain, somewhere under that mop of hair. Go figure.
I gave a presentation today at Bruner Middle School’s career day. I sort of horned in on another local author’s obligation, but since she just had surgery on her foot and is supposed to be in bed, I offered to take over. Problem was, when I got there at the end of her 2nd presentation, she didn’t want to leave. So she’s young and tough as nails, but who wouldn’t want to stay with a room full of teenagers eager to learn? Before high school, they don’t think they know it all.
There we were, two writers and an accountant sharing one class period. The odd trio. Even us writers made an odd couple, on the opposite end of the spectrum, since my young friend Lydia Golden started as a teen and has written 15 years to my 5 and has books already published. And though the time was split equally between professions, the pay isn’t. The accountant said he makes six figures, more money than both us writers combined. We didn’t let that disparity spoil our fun. After all, he volunteered the information that accountants do a lot of writing too. I added that most jobs require writing, so students should acquire the skill even if they don’t write as a career. I wish we’d had more time, but I can’t complain since none of that time was really mine.
While my young friend was able to speak of getting published after suffering through piles of rejections and the rewards receiving fan mail and finding out other people enjoyed her creations, I was a little more pragmatic at first. I told the students not to eliminate any career at this stage of their lives, like I did. Going gung-ho for something without field testing doesn’t work either. After 13 years of college, I cried when I had to draw blood from a baby in the emergency room. I hope I convinced a few teens to try things before they reject them, and to test them in real life situations before they waste years and money training for a job they won’t like.
Then I moved on to the fun stuff. I explained how to get ideas for short stories and how short stories build a writer’s platform and earn publishing credits and cash along the way to bigger things. The students were impressed when I told them about the $1000 scholarship prizes for current online writing contests. That’s good pay for answering one question: If you could have one superpower for a day, what would it be and how would you use it? That’s just one of several scholarship questions. And there are plenty of writing contests for teens with no entry fees and smaller cash prizes. I left a list with the teacher after the bell rang.
I forgot to say “never say never”. Wait. Isn’t that a double negative? Whatever it is, it isn’t positive. Not saying something can’t happen is far from saying it will happen. So let’s try this: I will do better next time. I will keep writing and I will get published.