Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What would I tell a high schooler to write?

To a high school kid I would say: write what you DON'T know. Which at this point in your life is pretty much everything.

At least that was true in my case. Seriously I don't think it was possible to be more of a clueless cross between Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times and any character on Revenge of the Nerds.

But the great thing about that state of ignorant bliss is - your mind is a blank, there are very few pre-concieved notions, and your own skills of self perception and self editing are at an all time low - otherwise why the did we ware those clothes??

That was my skull!!
. . .
And, since your average high school-er has no ability to self regulate, then they might as well experiment (not with drugs, people - I am not recommending that) but with their minds and the idea of where they want to go.

The real world will creep in soon enough. By junior year they are supposed to decide what college to attend and select a major and set themselves up on a locked in track that will determine the rest of their lives.
Just don't write on the desks.
Try it anyway, because at this point in your life you have a chance to do whatever the hell you want, and you'd better take advantage of it and explore your own soul and find out what makes it tick before someone out there starts telling you what makes it tick.
. . .
Draw crazy cartoons with super hero's and monsters and evil villains if you're so inclined. Use swear words. And not these kind (*&()(*_)&*%&*. Write the actual bad words down - don't worry the world will not come to an end. (And you'll probably get bored with writing them and decide to use better ones next time.)

And if you need more structure - build on the shoulders of the giants. Take a favorite book and write another scene to it - as if Steven Spielberg has hired you to do a sequel to Huck Finn or War of the Worlds or the Cat in the Hat (Wait they already did that - Cat in the Hat 3 anyone?)

Just try it out , see where it takes you, see if you enjoy it. You probably wouldn't be writing anything other than your final paper if you didn't find something rewarding in the process anyway.

Okay, so I think you get the point right? If not, well... your probably going to get held back a grade or two. Its not the end of the world.

So - write anything - just write if you want to - and don't worry about how good your work is - it's probably pretty bad at this point - but don't write for someones applause, don't expose what you're doing for some other cretins to judge. God knows you're dealing with enough of that at this point in your life already. Just write for yourself.

Let it be your expression of some inner truth - even if that truth is as shallow as Why I Love of Bootie Calls. No matter what yo do you won't please all the Bootie Call critics - trust me, I've tried. So just please the one inside you, and do it your way. And then, after years of doing that you WILL actually KNOW something - you'll know who you are. Where as - if you spend years doing what others tell you - you'll never be quite sure.

Despite what Mr. Hand said. It's really your time. So enjoy it.

Graham Brown is the author of two books, Black Rain and Black Sun, published by Random House. When in high school he wrote all kinds of things that were absolute crap. But, you got to start somewhere.



Terry Stonecrop said...

Love this post! So true, always someone trying to tell you how to tick.

Great idea about writing another scene to a great author's book. Sounds like fun. I think I'll do that myself. Thanks! Philip Marlowe sorely needs a bootie call.

Graham Brown said...

Thanks Terry - A Phillip Marlowe Bootie Call - I can't wait to read it.

Kelli Stanley said...

Great post, Graham!! I love the fact that you'd tell kids it's OK to rebel ... because it is, and conversely makes potentially dangerous behavior much less seductive.

My parents trusted me so much that I had absolutely no incentive to get in trouble ... especially because they took the time to make sure I was informed of the potential consequences. Drugs just never held any allure, especially when you can take yourself to different worlds by writing or reading. :)


Graham Brown said...

I think that's a really good point Kelly - one of my favorite movies of all time is Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams gets the characters to break the mould ad rules of their of their stodgy school. So he has them all coming up with thier own crazy walk or something and one of them - I think it might have been a character played by Matthew Perry -just stands there refusing to do anything at all. Robin Williams says MR. So and So - your not walking and the character says - choosing to demonstrate the point by not walking at all. OR something like that. Sometimes life is like that - people rebel only because some other force tells them they cant.