Thursday 5 December 2019

Finding the hidden authors in high-schools

So on a scale from salt to good old fashion black coffee, I'm just a little bitter about my memories of high-school. Not the fun I had or the girls I dated or the injuries I sustained or the fights I got in.

But on the fact that my joy of reading and imagination for stories was never picked up on, by the school system and the great teachers I had a chance to learn from.

They had no time!

We spent so much time teaching the basics and the mandatory and cheaply acquired essentials that we never got to the best part of English class, Writing!

I can remember covering creative writing as a two-week module in any high school English class I ever took. One where we learned for the fourth time in a row by grade twelve how to write a haiku and the elements of a 3 act play. Only as a set up our Shakespear unit the next month.

But I can't remember for the life of me ever being told that Author, was a job you could be out of high-school. That Writer was even a profession. These two titles were nowhere during the career fairs. On the long list things, you learn in school but never use, was the type of writing we learned in high-school that for the most part left us unprepared for the real writing, we were expected to complete in college let alone in life.

No one explained the difference between the novel and the novella or what a sourcebook was and why they are essential to writing non-fiction as research sources. How to write a proper essay, what a footnote was and how to format an essay.

No one dared give the idea of pouring your imagination and heart into a story with the intent of publishing it, in grade ten, and for the longest time I couldn't figure out why.

It's because the gatekeepers of literature were big, strong, and picky back then. and now they are not.

The desire and nostalgic envy I have for my former self sits squarely in the shed light of this new era of self-publishing. One where Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and a host of others allow anyone to publish their work with no gate and no keepers other than your self and your ability. That light didn't exist for us millennial parents back then like it does for our kids now. So the approach we took to literature and making it need to change.

Is your kid a book worm devouring novels of any genre and length by the 9th grade?

Get them a copy of "The Elements of Style" and turn them on to the idea that they could write the next Harry Potter, Percy Jackson or Katniss Everdeen, into existence

Get them a copy of Stephen King's "On Writing" to give Pennywise a run for his terrifying sewer clown money.

Pressfield's War of Art,

Lamott's Bird by bird.

Any number of toe-dipping dives into the world of being a writer because unless the government who runs our schools have suddenly become fantastically good at preparing youth for the world they will enter post-secondarily, they will never hear the call of their own pen's and keyboards until they are 26 and working a dead-end job with more commitments than motivation.

So this year, for Christmas. if you know someone who fits that bill. don't let them go another day without knowing it's at least possible now to Write. and give them the gift of dream chasing.