Oakfield-Alabama High School in Oakfield, NY had a career day the first day of school. They asked me to talk about being a writer. Certainly. But what would I tell them? Do you have to go to college? No, not necessarily. Do you have to be an English major? Most writers I know were not. Does it pay well? It depends how hard you work.
So I told them how I fell into my first book contract – another writer dropped the project leaving the editor in the lurch and I filled in. And what I liked most about writing – learning new things everyday, meeting fascinating people, and getting to share what I learn with kids.
I told them the perks – working my own hours, choosing my projects, and having nobody standing over my shoulder.
I described the down side – nobody standing over my shoulder, so that I am responsible for making myself work (which I am not good at).
How could they get into the writing business? I looked at their smooth faces and glazed-over eyes, and realized that they were all having cell phone withdrawal. Then I thought how lucky they were to be growing up in this age of technology. For them it is second nature. They write more now than kids ever did, putting their thoughts and emotions into text. It may be textING, but it is still written. They can create a blog for free, write and hone their style, cozy into their own voice, and develop a following all before they are ever published. No one ever read anything I wrote until it was in print. Now, kids can come to traditional publishing or whatever it morphs into being able to say, “My blog has 500 followers…” which would make any marketing department salivate. I, on the other hand, have to remind myself that I have taken on this challenge to write a short blurb once a week, and then stare at the blank screen wondering what to write about. My world is not as open as theirs is. My world is not as documented. I don’t feel that anyone needs to know or cares about what I'm thinking as asked on Facebook. I envy these kids. My evil side even resents them for how quickly they could surpass me.
After the last session, the teens slogged to their lockers and out the door, each one reaching for their cell phones that had been dormant for too long, to reconnect with the world.
I did too. I sat down and wrote this blog. Just one step ahead.