I was honoured to present at the Calgary Young Writers Conference this weekend. More than 1,500 elementary and junior high students from around the city congregated at the conference to meet authors and illustrators, and to learn new skills in writing/illustrating. In my workshops, the students participated in writing exercises. Afterwards, a number of them read their short stories out loud. I was blown away by their imagination and writing talent. One thing was apparent: these kids loved to write.
Writing simply for the love of it. Or, for that matter, doing anything just for the love of it. Do you remember those days?
I met a fellow presenter at the conference – a professor in his sixties who had been writing stories for years. He had received one Governor General’s nod during that time, and after that, he said he didn’t feel the need to publish anything else. He said the need to get published and the self-promotion took something away from the writing itself.
I had to agree. Promoting your writing, vying for recognition and trying to please others – it strips some of the purity out of the writing process. As writers, it’s likely that many of us started writing as children. And, I would venture a guess, most of us did it simply because we enjoyed it, because we felt compelled to create stories or poems or plays, and because we lost ourselves in it.
One of the keynote speakers at the conference was a young published author in Grade 6. At the very end of his speech, he told us not to write because we want to get published – to write because it’s what we love.
That’s when the magic happens.