I often hear from young readers asking my advice about how they can become an author, but yesterday, the question came from a different angle. The mother of a talented teen writer wrote in asking my advice.
She wrote “I need some advice (please)…… My teenage daughter writes beautifully and her teachers are saying she should consider a future in journalism or writing etc. When I try to discuss this with her all I manage to get is “I hate to write”. Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a writer/author? How do I cultivate such a gift without turning her away from it? You know how it is when you are a teenager, the more your mother wants you do something the less you want to do it.”
My first thought was that I’d love to have coffee with this mom. She’s she’s probably a little overanxious about her daughter’s future, but most parents are, and besides, this mom is reaching out for some information. How cool is that?
So I wrote back: “I have a strong opinion about this, so brace yourself.
Leave her alone. Please!
I had no idea I was going to be an author when I was in high school. I didn’t major in English or creative writing or journalism (though I wound up working at newspapers for years). But I found my path. If my parents had dragged me to this path, I can guarantee that I would never have become an author.
There are countless ways your daughter’s gift can unfold. Please give her the space to explore them on her own. Fill your home with books, art, music, and good food, and keep the “You Must Be A Writer” pressure locked out.
If she does become a writer, please don’t turn her bedroom into a guest room, because she’ll probably move back home to save money.”
She, in turn, wrote back a very nice note thanking me.
I wish I could take some of that mother’s enthusiasm about her daughter’s talents and sprinkle it on the parents who discourage their kids’ artistic dreams.
Come celebrate Banned Book Week with me tonight! Join me in downtown Syracuse where the Onondaga County Library System is hosting a reception for and presentation by Carolyn Mackler, author of wonderful books like The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, and Vegan Virgin Valentine. The reception starts at 5:30pm, and Carolyn speaks at 6pm.