Thursday, February 23, 2012

Roll apple roll

As I worked on a short story Monday, so did My 11-year-old Nina. She’s writing for a local literary contest. Part of me thinks it’s great. The outer part; the part I use to encourage my children in all of their varied endeavors. Good throw. That looks exactly like a giant carrot. Sound it out. The inner part, though, that one grumbled. Who, in their right mind, would want their child to pursue writing?

Fitting words together can be rewarding, to both your inner and outer parts. Your exterior gets to absorb the occasional accolade. Your interior can reflect, grow and learn about you. But the learning doesn’t stop there. You can’t help but learn about others, too. Writing is, most of the time, like standing at the wrong end of a shooting gallery. It’s tough to watch your loved ones giving that a try.

Rejection is part of life and it’s a good idea to teach kids about it early on. It’s not fair to let them sail through their early years thinking everything they do is smart or adorable. Writing teaches you first about rejection and it’s quieter, more despicable sibling, apathy. Apathy is a tougher concept to inject and of dubious long-term merit. I’m not sure I need my kids toying with the idea that, for the most part, no one cares what you do. Most of your successes in life are going to be measured by you and cherished by no one else. Following that come the critiques. Writing never leads to perfect consensus. If you dead-on write the absolute truth someone out there will dislike your work if for no other reason than he or she is contrary by nature. They snipe for snipe’s sake. You really can’t please everyone any of the time.

There are easier paths for one to wish their loved ones along. Or so it would seem. I have a doctor friend who hopes his kids steer clear of the medical profession. My father-in-law told each of his children to never go into banking. I’m betting every parent wants their apples to roll.