Writing is a solitary pursuit--the imagination guiding the hand moving the pen. I'm pretty old-school, valuing the work of good editors and the revisions process before letting my words go public. But life is short, right? And sometimes, just sometimes, we need to spout off.

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A writer, mother, teacher, friend, I love books, blizzards and beaches, music from Hildegard von Bingen to the Beatles to Bonnie Raitt to The Brood; I love medieval churches, red wine, creme caramel, and roasted beets, and walking the woods and coastlines of home. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Beware bad advice

One of the true perks of teaching writing is getting to hear students' stories. A brilliant night of readings this evening at a former student's apartment. Four writers. A full house. A filmmaker filming them. Wonderful chitchat between acts.

A reminder, tho, not just of what a rare privilege it is to help nurture young talents, and what a gift, but what a responsibility.

Especially when they divulge bits of advice thrust on them by some instructors.

Advice suitable for framing, after you've wrung it out of your system--quickly.

Advice to be pulled out like a whoopie cushion.

Bad as it is, it's worth a laugh.

"Never write stories about kids," a certain unnamed prof advised a certain brilliant young writer who happened to be writing a brilliant novel about a kid. "Stories about kids don't work," said the prof, "because kids have no money, don't have sex, don't do drugs or drink." Likely there was something in there as well about kids being lazy bums who don't have jobs.

The student said, Um, what about Huckleberry Finn?

To which we might add Ellen Foster, Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, Harry Potter and the narrator of at least one Jonathan Safran Foer novel, to name a few that spring instantly to mind. Shout out the others you know!

May you find this advice as dangerously funny and misguided as I did.

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