On Saturday I visited two libraries here in the Spokane area–I’ve probably mentioned how dear these institutions are to me–and it was a wonderful experience.
First, I stopped off at the Moran Prairie Branch, where I spoke to a lively group of readers with a lot of good questions to ask. I was delighted to encounter Carolyn/Caroline (I didn’t ask for the spelling), who is an aspiring writer, still in her early teens. I LOVE it when young people show an interest in writing, probably because I was very young myself–10– when I started stringing words together. The advice I gave her is the advice I give to all budding writers, no matter what their age: Write, write, write, and read, read, read; listen to criticism and weigh it as objectively as you can, BUT stay true to your own individual style and voice. Too many teachers, especially at the college level, have a very narrow view of what constitutes good writing and will try to force their students into some kind of mold. Dereth, the librarian in charge of the event, made an excellent point–that the same thing can happen with art. The often unspoken message is: if you don’t paint like Rembrandt or Picasso, pack up your brushes and go find some other passion to follow.
B.S., as we say out here in the Wild West. We don’t need another Rembrandt–or another Shakespeare, for that matter–we need fresh, adventurous, exciting NEW voices, not just in writing and art, but in every endeavor we undertake.
The second stop was the North Spokane Branch, where another excellent group waited and, as always, I learned more than I taught.
And I am now the proud possessor of a library card. It only took six and a half years.
Let’s be the best thing that happens to somebody all day. Just a smile or a kind word can make all the difference in the world.