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  1. #1
    Nora Christie
    Guest

    For Young Writers

    This is for Chelsea and other young writers who post here saying they want to be published:


    From Conversations: Reynolds Price and William Ray (The MVC Bulletin, Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee, 1976

    A novel is, alas-- for better or worse, a function of experience and maturity. Why are there almost no good novels written by people in their early twenties or in their teens? There are almost none. It's one of the great problems of teaching writing to young people-- you find talented young people, eighteen or nineteen years old; you try to teach them some skills; you try to teach them some awareness, some craft and discipline. But you are also aware that you're getting them all dressed up with no place to go for about ten years, because they've got to wait until they've settled into their own characters and into their own lives, until they know something in their lives; and then their good fiction, their good narrative, will begin to come out of them in their middle and late twenties-- I believe often not until their late thirties.

    by Reynolds Price



  2. #2
    jill
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers


    That's a very eloquent passage; I agree completely. I too wrote novel after novel in my teens. They were all trash, not because I lacked talent, but because I lacked awareness and depth.

    Jill

  3. #3
    Keith Postler
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers

    Well, I hope that last sentence is right, because I'm well on my way to my late 30s ...

    --Keith

  4. #4
    Shoilee
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers

    that makes me sad, even if it is true. i guess there's hope

    sk

  5. #5
    EB
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers

    I believe the passage is, for the most part, correct about needing to know something in (and of) one's life before it can be turned into "good" writing. HOWEVER, there are some amazing young people out there who are more self-realized than many older adults (including writers) and I just hope they are inclined to write, write, write and write some more. Or paint. Or make music.

    As for writing trash, well, yes a lot of what young people write is trash. Ooh, how I groan when I read some of the excruciating, tortured pieces of my youth. HOWEVER, in the piles of my trash, I have found some discarded treasures. Maybe just a turn of a phrase, or a description that stimulates my memory and gets rewritten with a more "mature" sensibility.

    So, Chelsea and other young writers - don't be discouraged by Reynolds Price and wait until you're 30 to start writing. Every effort deepens the soul.

    EB

  6. #6
    Shoilee
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers

    EB,

    So there IS hope for the young ones!!! Your message provides much needed encouragement.

    sk

  7. #7
    Fiona Juan
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers

    Although it makes me cringe to agree, alot of what we all wrote when we were emotionally immature is tarsh. Fortunately, one advantage of age is understanding, and that makes good writing. I'm 25 going on 60, so heres hopin'

  8. #8
    Chris Graham
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers

    I gave up writing at about age 15 because it seemed hopeless. Of course, I still wrote the usual term papers and what not for high school and college.

    Picked it up again just after I turned 20. Looking back, my writing really stunk at that time, but I kept going, kept writing, and it got a little bit better each day.

    Now, I'm 28 and my writing shows vast improvement. Enough improvement to get me published? Well, that hasn't been proven yet, at least not a novel, but I keep trying.

    3 complete fiction manuscripts, each one better than the last, but somehow not quite good enough. Looking back, I'd kill to have those 5 years of inactivity back because I honestly believe that I would be ahead of where I am now.

    Don't stop writing. It's a skill, and just like any other skill if you don't put in the necessary work to develop it, than you are wasting it.

    Skills are like muscles and they will atrophy over time if you do not use them. Don't worry about the so-called 'life experience' that you are lacking because of your age, just worry about the next sentence and the one that follows.

    I've known kids who have more life experience than most adults. In fact, I know plenty of adults who can't even write a coherent sentence. Just keep writing, keep getting better, keep moving forward.

  9. #9
    Marie Lu
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers

    I don't think it's any sort of strict rule that young writers don't have enough experience to write good fiction. Granted, they don't have enough experience....that's simply a fact of time. But just because young writers haven't yet fully blossomed into adults doesn't mean their minds sometimes mature far more rapidly than their peers. Successful young writers appear all the time, and even though some do need lots of work on their writing, the fact that they can accomplish published novels at their age means that there is always hope for the young writer: Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" when she was only 19, Hinton (sp?) wrote "The Outsiders" at age 16, Walter Farley wrote "The Black Stallion" (one of my childhood favorites) at age 15, etcetc.

  10. #10
    Jennifer Lawson - Zepeda
    Guest

    Re: For Young Writers

    I absolutely disagree with this post. Why? Because my favorite author began when she was around 21, Michele Serros and she’s had two books that have done VERY well. In fact, she currently writes for the George Lopez show.

    Second, our graphic artist has written a children’s book that would rival Harry Potter. The art and story is so unique and creative, not to mention well written, I was overwhelmed with his ideas.

    I think it depends on the individual. People in their twenties are at the peak of creative development. Their ideas are fresh and unique. As we age, we mature and while our long term cognitive processes are much stronger, according to psychologists, youth has the advantage in the creative or quick cognitive processes. Each offers benefit towards writing. If a young person also develops their skill with the written word, then they can easily have the advantage in writing.

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