Wednesday, May 16, 2012

THE BOY IN THE FRONT ROW


The important thing is never to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.- Albert Einstein

In my capacity as a self-published author, I have ventured into the world of school visits to talk about becoming an author and about the revision process, an oft requested and favorite topic of English teachers everywhere. I’ve spoken to middle schoolers starting at sixth grade, high schoolers, and a college creative writing guild. I’ve spoken to writing groups and a Rotary Club.

Invariably, there is a boy in the front row who is totally engaged in the Q&A portion of the visit, hand up time and time again with questions about the creative process, the business process, his own writing. His eyes shine with curiosity. He’s devouring every piece of advice. When everyone else runs out of steam, he is still questioning and spinning what he is learning into a plan, into a trajectory for his own aspirations. And I can tell from the gleam in his eye that he’s caught a glimpse of the long road from wish to accomplishment. Hold that vision, kid.

Why a boy? I don’t know. It just always is. Clearly he’s never heard that real men don’t ask for directions--they’d rather get lost. But he has pulled over in front of his entire class and is shamelessly asking for the directions to that amazing place he’s heard of and wants to get to--the land of Published.

So, to the boy in the front row, I say, “Never stop asking people ahead of you for directions, share the news of detours and potholes with your fellow travelers, and offer the people coming up behind you a traffic report to help them find the way, too.”
Whenever you get the chance, be that boy in the front row, even if you’re a girl. Ask. Absorb. Achieve. Accomplish.

There’s a myth that Albert Einstein failed math. Actually he was the twelve-year-old in the front row with his hand up, asking questions about calculus. And then he showed us the universe.
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Liz Coley writes young adult novels and science fiction/fantasy short stories for anthologies and magazines.
Her novel Pretty Girl-13 from HarperCollins Katherine Tegen Books will be debuting in 2013 in the US and will be sold internationally.

There are secrets you can't even tell yourself.

For more about Liz and her work, visit lizcoley.com and LCTeen.com or follow her on Twitter at LizColeyBooks.

4 comments:

  1. Sorry about the weird spacing issues on first posting! Never happened before.

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  2. An excellent post, Liz! I just taught two writing workshops in March and had one of those boys in the front row asking me questions, too!

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  3. I was the silent girl in the back row...wish I'd been that boy in the front row. Nice post, Liz.

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