You see them in coffee shops, sitting in a corner madly pounding away at keyboards as though their lives depended on it.
Or sometimes at a park bench in the shade frowning at the screen.
You trip on them in the library as they snatch a book right out from under your fingers.
They prowl the used book stores looking for titles.
When you make a grammar error, they are the first to correct you.
And if you are like me, your twitter, G+ and FB streams are filled with advice on submissions, guidelines and open calls for anthologies, and debates on what makes good writing good.
I’ve been writing for a while now. On and off for about 10 years. I’ve got 2 novels written and various short stories filed away. I’m starting to get some acceptances, and I am volunteering my time learning quite a bit about the other side of writing.
But I’ve discovered an interesting thing. Writing is contagious.
Say you have a small group who are interested in a single subject, dogs. One person writes a story and shows it to the group. The group, reads and offers ideas to the first writers. But then something happens, one of the other people in that group, will begin to write a story.
I’m not sure if it is competition or just that the second person discovers they have a story they would like to tell, but it happens. Sometimes the entire group becomes writers, but often it is just a few.
Strangely it has been happening in my house. You see I have 2 boys. The oldest, I feared would never learn to enjoy reading, the second has been caught lying in bed very late finishing a book.
I’ve never hidden my writings from them. When they are playing video games or watching TV, I have either a notebook or my computer open. I discuss with them issues I have with my writing and have included them in some brainstorming sessions. (we have a detailed plan for a zombie apocalypse.) I have even used their toys to play out scenes so that I have an idea of scale and effect of actions.
Last year I announced to them that I was wanting to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWritMo) and my oldest got excited as I showed them the home page. He pointed out the Young Author section, a new one for me and asked if he could participate too. I was kind of shocked as he brought out a mangled notebook that he had been writing in.
So we signed him up. Over the course of a month he wrote about 2,000 words, but never finished the story. I knew that was okay, as I have many starts that I never finish. My oldest is also very impulsive and does everything in spurts. He’d get back to it when he was ready.
Last night, as I was reading slush, he began peeking over my shoulder. When I asked what he was doing, he said he had been writing and wanted to look at the beginning of the stories. He wasn’t happy with what he had written. We had a short discussion on what makes a good beginning and I promised that I’d find some short stories for him to look at tonight.
He’s already discussed his idea with me, and for a first timer it sounds pretty good. I am going to encourage him to get it on the page first. Worry about editing and development later.
I’m very proud of him. 1) because he now enjoys reading. 2) because he is taking a chance that could lead him to his dreams.
Now, I’m wondering when my youngest is going to develop a captain of his battle Tech mech and begin writing stories on that!!