Today I was passed a short piece of work (fiction) that had been written by an eleven year-old boy…the son of a friend of my wife.
I’d been asked for my opinion of the writing and I was happy to help. The lad who wrote it is currently enjoying ‘A Construct of Angels’ and is thrilled that his mother works with the wife of an author.
That’s me…in case you didn’t follow.
I was happy to read it, but as I picked it up, I found myself wishing that I’d known an author when I was eleven. True, I’d had a lot of encouragement from my English teacher when I was at senior school, but an author? They were unreachable, weren’t they? My only experience of authors at the time were the books of Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. No, I had to set my sights just a little bit lower. I still remember being thrilled back in 1978 when a BBC Open University lecturer replied to my letter containing an astronomical query.
So I sat back, put on some distraction-cancelling music and read through the two pages that had been printed for me. I recognised the style instantly. Quick, hurried prose that showed an excitability; a joy at having the freedom and passion to write. It was an end-of-the-world scene, something that I had cut my junior teeth on back in the 1970′s. Almost everything I wrote in those days was end-of-the-world where the crowded and less-than-friendly society had been washed away, leaving only a few familiar comforts for my fledgling characters. Looking back, I think it was my mind’s way of reshaping the misery around me into something I could control better. I wasn’t having a happy time of it. An overbearing and abusive father coupled with bullying peers made for a pretty miserable life. However, I still hold the legacy of those embittered days in the form of ‘Homeworld’, my sci-fi saga (as yet unfinished, but that will change) where alien beings battle to survive war and the harsh conditions of their slow-turning world.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the submitted piece; The scene didn’t take long to read. It was only two pages long, but I had to admit that it was better than the lines that I had been turning out at the same age. We’re living in a different era now, it’s true. Eleven year-olds are wiser now than they were when I was a pre-teen. But regardless of that, it was a very good start to a potential life of writing fiction.
If I was able to pass on any advice to the young writer, I would simply say this; Never stop writing. If you love it, keep practising it. Read much – and not just your favourite genre. Follow others who have trodden this path before you, for there are many…and learn from their experiences, because their errors can only serve to smooth your path.
Oh, and make sure you know how your story will end – so you have something to aim your story towards. Don’t repeat my decades-long mistake of creating never-ending stories.
The best of luck in your endeavours.