Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Visit to a Young Writers Camp

Today I spoke at a Young Writers Camp in Northern San Diego. I did it last year, and they asked me back again this year, so I guess I didn't scare the kids too much.

What's most interesting is the questions they ask (these are elementary school students, from first to fifth grade):

"What inspired you to write?"

"Is writing hard for you?"

"Where do you get your ideas?"

"Do you write children's books?"

"What books did you read when you were growing up?"

"Do you make a lot of money from writing?"

(Yes, I laughed at that one.)

But my favorite today was this one:

"Are you well known?"

Uh, well, see kid, it's complicated, there are like different levels and different types of success when you're a writer. I mean, I don't have a book published or anything yet, but I've published a lot of stories, and some people seem to like them, and I tried to publish this one novel with this one agent a few years ago and, well, long story short, it didn't work out, because getting published is kinda hard and this long drawn out process and there's also this thing called rejection, kid, don't mean to scare you or anything here, but it's true, and now I'm working on this other novel, see, and I have another agent who's really great and encouraging and maybe this one will work out but I have to finish writing it first, so we'll see...

Of course I didn't say this. I yammered about something (can't even remember), but I probably just should have said no. Either way, you could tell the kid was disappointed that I wasn't Stephen King. I was disappointed I wasn't Stephen King.

Last year the kids lined up in front of me after my talk and asked me for my autograph (one girl even had me sign her backpack). This year's crowd, however, was a bit more subdued. No autographs. Though we did pose for a nice picture (I'll post it here if I can get a copy) and they did laugh at 43 percent of my jokes.

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