Saturday, May 12, 2012

On Overhearing Young Writers.

I was in the book store yesterday and without meaning to, I eavesdropped on a conversation between two young girls who were sitting at the small table next to me. They were interviewing each other for the possibility of sharing a dorm room, I realized, and were therefore sharing personal information -- their majors, their family values, their credit card ownership or lack thereof.

One girl said that she planned to become a journalism major. My ears really perked up then.

"Broadcast journalism?" asked the other girl.

"No, print," she responded. "In print, you can really say what you think. I want to write for magazines. If I get an internship I can find a decent job right after college."

Then she remarked how she also wanted a family one day. "I don't want to give my WHOLE life to writing; I want a husband and children. But I want a career too," she mused, like any modern woman.

It took all of my decorum not to pipe up and say something. But I didn't want these girls to know that I'd been listening. Anyway, what would I say? That writing is effing hard work, and she probably won't get a job right after school? That if she REALLY loves writing then family life might be placed onto the back burner a while? That magazine writing isn't all "saying what you think?"

But no. As adults, we make a pact with the youth. It's just the way we make a pact with small children that we will not spoil their ideas on the moon being made of green cheese, the possibility that wild animals can be friendly, or that toys do come to life at night.

It's my responsibility to let these 17-year-old girls find out their own truths, through trial and error, just the way I did. Everyone's truth is different.

I, for one, still like the idea of petting an animal in the wild.

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