Writing for Publication
In my workshops for kids and teens, they always have questions about where they can publish and how they should go about it. So I tell them what I can, and I offer my ongoing list of Where Young Authors Can Submit.
I understand how exciting and validating it can be when a story or poem is accepted for publication, and I’m particularly thrilled when marginalized voices get a chance to be heard. But publication isn’t THE goal of my writing workshops.
Writing to Understand Your World
Personally, I write to understand the world around me in all its complex, painful, fascinating glory. It maims us and then celebrates us. It gives us riches and takes them away. I find endless subject matter to write about by lifting my head and really observing what’s happening around me.
So I hope that, in my workshops, kids and teens can get a taste of that goal and its pleasures.
Writing to Move People
I also hope to share my awe of words – how they have the power to make me laugh, cry, or feel inspired. I’m continually delighted by the power of words to move me, particularly the brilliant writing that’s composed in only a few minutes during a workshop.
Writing to Make Your Soul Grow
In a letter to high school students in 2006, Kurt Vonnegut wrote:
Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
Wonderful advice! Is there are loftier purpose for writing? In his letter, Vonnegut goes on to suggest the students write a poem and then tear it up. Then he writes:
You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.
Thanks, Vonnegut, for the reminder.