In this morning's Kansas City Star, a teen-age girl was profiled in a Monday feature that runs in the FYI section. The teen doesn't fit the image most of us have of teens today--texting, ipods, cellphones, standing in line to see a premier showing of a movie like those in the Twilight series.
The article stated that this young girl would rather write in her journal than text her friends. She'd rather read about boys in a book than see them in a mall. Her alarm is often set for 3 a.m. so she can work on her novel. She is a "teen-writer-in-residence" for a suburban library this summer. Her goal is to get other teens "jazzed" about writing. She will also teach creative writing to middle-schoolers. The article went on to give times this young woman is available each week to talk with other teens.
Typical teen? I think not. While I admire her drive and her goals, I wonder if she is missing out on some of the usual everyday teen life. As much as I would like to see middle school and high school students learn about writing and practice the skill, I'd also like them to do a lot of those normal kid things, too. Not always easy to hit that happy medium.
I have no doubt that this young woman has a bright future ahead of her, but will she one day look back and rue the things she missed in her younger years? There's no way of knowing, of course, but I hope that doesn't happen. The growing-up years are swift as water rushing over rocks in a mountain stream. And once they're gone, there's no way to relive them.
That said, I also hope that any teen who has an interest in writing will pursue it on a regular basis. As writers, we need to schedule time for writing, and teen-writers are no different. If they only think about writing but never take time out from their activity filled summer, they won't grow in this craft.
Do you have a teen in your family who has an interest in writing? If you do, encourage them to set aside some writing time and some reading time, too. Show interest in what they write (if they'll show it to you). Help make it possible for them to achieve writing goals.
I have a teen-aged granddaughter who likes to write and hopes to make it a career someday. She has her eye on being a TV journalist. She was editor of her middle school newspaper last school year. I wonder if she's reading the two books on writing for young people that this writer grandmother gave her a few months ago. Hope so!