When I was fifteen, I wanted to be a writer, which is not especially uncommon among bookish fifteen-year-olds.
I had an amazingly encouraging creative writing teacher in high school, who believed in giving us assignments and letting us hand in something entirely unrelated if the whim struck us. He cared more that we were writing something that interested us and hitting the required word count than finishing each writing exercise to the letter. (I have learned that he’s had some mystery novels recently published, which thrills me!) We also got bonus points for doing things like research on markets and such, doubtlessly to try to impress into our you, stubborn brains that writing the book is only half the work.)
However, I went on to do various other things with my life, and though I find having a certain skill at stringing words together on the page is a huge asset, I don’t find that I have the burning desire to be a writer at this point in my life. Because, let’s face it, it’s a lot of work. (I can say this with a fair amount of certainty– I’m married to a writer, my mom is a writer, a lot of our friends are writers–I’m surrounded!) Maybe at some point, I’ll find that I have stories I want to tell, and that work will all seem worth it. That time is not now. My tendencies towards massive amounts procrastination don’t help much either…
And looking back at the stuff I wrote when I was fifteen, I am so very, very, very glad that it didn’t get published anywhere. Let’s face it, most teen writers are not S.E. Hinton or Christopher Paolini or even Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. (Most beginning writers of any age need to, well, spend enough time writing and practicing that they’re not beginning writers any more, but I digress.)
A while ago, Jon Scalzi wrote 10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing. Number one was, The Bad News: Right Now, Your Writing Sucks. He’s recently followed that up with On Teens, And the Fact That Their Writing Sucks, which has prompted Justine Larbalestier to link back to her article Too Young To Publish and post some of her own thoughts on beginning writers.
And on an only vaguely related tangent, I was reminded how much I love Joss Whedon, rewatching his speech on why he writes strong female characters. “Because you’re still asking me that question.” There’s a couple of minutes of intro first, but Joss is there. If you haven’t heard it, go. Go now and watch.