Overheard in the Colony Middle School library:
“Wait, why am I dead?”
“I’m Sprinkles and you’re Twizzlers.”
“Yours would be more like a dystopia.”
I LOVE listening to middle school students talk to each other about their novels — the silly stuff, the insights, everything. These young writers are not only creative and consistent, but they know how to play, which is something I think adult writers can forget how to do, especially in anticipation of eventual fame. These kids know what they’re talking about, too, and most of them are sixth-graders!
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again here: We have to give young people more credit. Two of my writers (I hesitate to even say “my,” since they are so independent and driven already), have almost reached their goals of 20,000 words this month, and I think they’ll reach it by Nov. 30. And, maybe the best part is, they are working together, while competing against each other! One is still thinking of a title, and the other — who doesn’t even come to the in-person meetings because she goes to a different school — sent her a message on the site asking if she could help.
I am so excited and impressed by these girls (and a couple of boys) and their accomplishments, I can hardly stand it. I want to tell everyone about my young writers.
We have less than a week left in November, and the kids don’t want to stop. I polled them on Google Forms and seven of the 10 who responded said wanted all the editing help I could give — copy edits, plot help, character and dialogue… eight said they wanted publishing tips. Two, in person, said, “We should make this a permanent club all year.”
Honestly, I was hesitant to continue, to take all this on. But how could I say no to that kind of enthusiasm? I realize not all teachers will think they have time for this sort of thing. Maybe it’s not the role you can or should take on. But I told these kids I would read their work, and that I will meet them once a week next semester, so that’s what I’m going to do.
If we host this club again next year, I told the students, I may set my goal much lower, or not write at all, so I can spend more time during the month reading their work and offering suggestions (per their requests). They liked the idea, a lot, and I realized that this is what teaching is. I’m going to have to get used to the fact that students want my time and I’m going to want to give it to them. I will have to make sacrifices. But someone else will benefit, and that will have to be enough.
Thankful for young writers,