Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Young writers

My niece is a writer. That sounds cool, doesn't it?

And it is cool, because Shannon is young. It seems like only yesterday she turned 21 but it was probably a year or two ago - I can't quite remember. In any case Shannon is very young, yet she has written a book!

I think it's great that she did this because I don't think enough young people read books, let alone consider writing one. And I think for the most part, they could do with the practice.

You see, as a writer, I get pretty disillusioned by the lack of spelling and grammatical skills among the younger generation. I mean, since when have we used an apostrophe to indicate plural, for example, car's, dog's? An apostrophe indicates ownership or the missing letters of a contraction.

I saw a sign in a shop window the other day advertising Tomato's for sale. For starters, some sign-writer didn't know that the plural of Tomato's is tomatoes...and then some bozo signed-off on the artwork and paid for it. It's appalling!

Then there's my other big gripe: the use of your as in you are when it should be the contraction, you're.

Uh-oh, now I'm on a roll. How about the use of I when it should be me: Give the book to John and meeee (not I).

Plain old everyday stuff that we learned, or should have (note the use of should have not should of) learned in school.

I've decided that our education standards have slipped; I came to that conclusion while chatting with a couple of twenty-somethings who are school teachers. When our discussion rolled around to writing, as it does when people find out what I do, the topic of spelling and grammar came up.

These girls didn't know the rules either, and there they were imparting erroneous information onto their students. Imagine my horror!

Suffice to say I decided to shelve my opinions on tautologies and redundant adverbs!

Which brings me back to Shannon. Here is a young person who set herself the goal of writing a book - a goal she achieved.

I was intrigued and kind of impressed. But I was worried too. A twenty-something has written a book!? What the...?

I asked, cautiously, if I could read it.

She said yes.


Then she gave it to me.


I started reading.

I admit it: I was worried. What if I hated it? What if she had written the biggest pile of crap since...well since Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, which according to Goodreads, was voted the worst book ever by Goodreads followers.

With regard to Shannon's book, I was surprised. Pleasantly.

I could honestly say what a good job she had done, and joy of joys - she used contractions and apostrophes in the right spots!

Shannon, avid reader that she is, admits that many people her age don't read, and most wouldn't dream of tapping out anything more substantial than lol or cul8ter.

I'd like to think that I can be an inspiration to people like Shannon. I'd also like to think Shannon can be an inspiration to the people around her.

Certainly there are plenty of opportunities for young writers to strut their stuff. The City of Casey, for example, has a free writing competition for young people called Fresh Words.

There's also the Child Writes competition for school aged kids.

Get onto it, tell your friends, encourage your children.

Let's nurture the beauty of the written word. After all, the lines we write today are the gifts we leave that pass into the future.

So, what do we want the future to say about us?


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