Peggy Bechko: Some Young Writer’s Notes

griffenby Peggy Bechko

It’s about time we talked about the kids.

Kids write too. Some quite well, others just trying their hand at the craft.

Sometimes we forget. I don’t know how many of you out there began writing at an early age, but I was about 12. Managed to write an entire novella without describing hardly a thing! Quite an accomplishment that. Thank heavens for a Godmother who read my work and pointed out that little failing.

When I started writing there was no internet where I could go for mentoring, research, or anything else. My mentors were physically present. A Godmother who was game. A good teacher. Finally a published writer who agreed to read some of my work. She gave me feed-back – mostly diplomatically negative, but welcome nonetheless.

I wrote through my teen years, jumping right into novels. I was at home writing when most kids were out doing the social two-step. Never did do short stories or articles back then. I had my goal – to be a published novelist. I reached that goal when I was 21 when my first Western novel was published by Doubleday. There are kids out there now with the same single-minded pursuit, I have no doubt of it.

Being mentored by another writer is mostly quite a few years back now, but I had one additional mentor who set me on another path of writing just a few years back. Funny how people and things change the direction of your life ~ especially when you keep yourself open to it.

Having a resource such as the web at our fingertips (all our fingertips) is a pretty magical thing. (yeah, yeah, be blasé, like it’s nothing special, always been there.)

It is.

It hasn’t.

Still, the web can also be isolating – yes even more so than the writer’s life already IS isolating. And for kids, that can make things even more daunting. The arrival of the web has created a strange balancing act between having the world open up with almost any information you need right there at hand, and doing little but stare at a computer screen because of it. Not to mention you don’t even have to get up from the computer to go to the library to find information you need – and you can find lots of wrong information on the web.

So if you’re a kid and write, kudos to you, keep it up! Work at it, enjoy it, research places to publish your work and to sell it. They do exist. There are places directed exclusively at young, enthusiastic new writers; websites and magazines that offer opportunity to the young, new writer.

Check out Stone Soup – the magazine by young writers and artists at www.stonesoup.com (that’s for the 8 to 13 crowd).

There’s WattPad at http://www.wattpad.com/about for the over 13 crowd.

Go to http://www.fundsforwriters.com/newsletters/ and scroll down to subscribe to the children’s markets for young writers called Writing Kid for free.

Do google searches for research and to find sites where you might be published or sites of hard copy magazines receptive to the young writer.

That’s not to say the local avenues of getting your writing out there should be passed up. Write for a school paper. See if your local newspaper has a young adult/kid’s section written by kids and find out what it takes to get your work published there. Discover where writing fits into your life. And don’t forget to get out and experience life so you have something to write about!

And, if you’re an old hand, a writer with a track record, how about mentoring a kid who’s seriously writing? How about trying to get a kid who’s not interested in writing interested? I’ve been to both places. It’s rewarding, frustrating, uplifting and infuriating. Quite the roller coaster but worth every minute invested.