Yesterday, my eleven year-old son handed me a short story he’d written for school. He asked me not to mark on it because he’d spent a lot of time typing it. The writer in me desperately wanted to show misspellings, errors and um, add paragraph breaks. 😉
But the writer in me was also blown away by this glimpse into a future storyteller’s early ability. He had written the story in first person with sentences like this one.
“The air was sweet in my lungs.”
I could tell he was proud of his work and instead of making him retype with spellings corrected and um, those pesky paragraph breaks, I spent more time complementing him. Yes, I told him the things it needed, but I didn’t put the emphasis on that. Instead, I focused on the positive of the story, pointed out the wonderful turns of phrase. He’s had a rough time of it lately and to see him put this kind of effort into something warmed my heart.
It also opened my eyes.
This little story about a caveman’s battles before being accepted into a more evolved clan of people was so full of heart. In a few short pages, he showed glimpses of family love and loyalty, harsh survival, the painful reality of battle…and then the wonder of true human acceptance for those different than ourselves.
My son reminded me of what’s important–not only in writing and critiquing–but in this world. It could not have been timelier.
He also made me remember why I jumped into this writing gig.
The passion and excitement of seeing a story come to life.
The occasional awe and surprise when some evocative description rolls into a story.
The need to show true human emotion and survival during difficult times.
All through a child’s story.
I’m glad I didn’t make him correct that paper even though his grade will suffer a bit from format. A new writer’s ego is fragile. And though this toughens up a bit over time, even we veterans can reel from a hard knock once in awhile.