Black hair, blond hair, brunettes . . . even a few redheads . . . all different, yet, all the same. Precocious literary engines that spell trouble for contemporary authors may soon be earning those coveted few writing contracts available each year. Most of them show no outward signs of the threat that lurks beneath their cheerful, grade-school camouflage. But, I warn you, do not let their humble facades and freckled dimples trick you into complacency. They are here--and, they will be threatening your publishing contracts before you know it!
Who are these up-and-coming apex predators of the literary world? I’ve seen them. I’ve looked into their intense eyes. I’ve walked among them, but, most importantly, I have read their writing. We are doomed.
Why the alarm?
Two weeks ago, I participated in a little kick-off talk with fourth and sixth grade students at the
. It started out innocently. They and their teachers planned to participate in the NaNoWriMo concept of writing a novel in a month. Sounded like fun. Lots of questions pertaining to the process of writing made my job easy. I had a good time and agreed to weekly visits to mentor the kids in their effort. I had no idea of the lurking menace. Loomis Basin Charter School
In my first mentoring session (last week), I spent a couple hours with child-writers discussing their stories. Oh my God! Exciting plots, vivid imaginations and pretty darn good writing skills poured out. Limits on imagination do not exist with these kids. I could easily envision half their story ideas evolving into full-blown novels, complete with intriguing plots, fascinating characters and great hooks to capture reader interest. The future of creative writing looks healthy. So much so, that I’m afraid they could displace many present-day writers.
Should we writers fear them? Should we sabotage their growth by crushing imagination under piles of academic “truths” in high school and college? I hope not. It should be our mission to nurture such minds, helping them become the best they can be. If these future Hemingways and Asimovs eat into the limited pool of publishing contracts, so be it. The bright side is that new ideas and innocent testing of literary status quo may inspire new readers. With luck, they won’t need to steal away our fans, because they will bring an entire new generation into a love of reading.
These kids represent the future of our great nation’s literary talent. From what I’ve seen, we may be teetering on the brink of a modern day Renaissance. I wish all writers could spend a day with kids like these. They bring fresh faces to the table of ideas in literature. I can’t wait for my next meeting to see how much more they have added to their stories.