A ten year old girl sits intently over her metal framed desk, her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth as her pencil scratches furiously across the lined paper. She sighs, erases, then places pencil to paper again. An adventure is spilling from her fingertips. It involves a hot air balloon and a chicken.
She knows it’s brilliant.
With a modicum of flair, the girl hands it to her teacher looking much like the Cheshire Cat. Two days later, her story come back with a bright red smiley face and the words GREAT JOB! The teacher pulls her aside later and tells the girl to never be afraid to use her imagination and to keep telling stories.
So the girl does.
A thirteen year old girl sits in her bedroom with the blank pages of a journal on her lap. It is the place where the angst of teendom spills forth in childlike poetry. She pours out her heart with emotion and gives full expression to every hurt, every confusion, every fear, every joy.
She lays the journal down and immediately feels the need to write some more.
So she does.
A sixteen year old girl sees a younger classmate hurting and wants to help. She’s not good with words unless she is able to put them on paper so she decides to write a devotional. With great fervor, she writes a seven day devotional in which she hopes to convey God’s love in a way that replaces the pain with hope. She never found out if she succeeded, but she begins to wonder if her passion could be used for good.
So she continues to dream.
A nineteen year old girl is called into her professor’s office. She sees her paper on his desk and suddenly fears she has made a grave error in her writing. She listens in awe as he instead praises her paper and asks if he can submit it to a local writing contest. “You know we have a Professional Writing Major here, don’t you?” he asks. “You should think about that.”
She thinks, she decides, she declares.
A twenty year old sits on a train from Prague to Ukraine. She is alone with a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a copy of Jane Eyre. She puts down her book and looks out at the changing leaves and rolling hills of a foreign land. She picks up her pen and journal and writes. She uses “Thee” and “Thou” and feels like Charlotte Bronte on a grand adventure.
She feels romantic and poetic.
A twenty three year old girl is newly married and sitting in her empty apartment, her eyes glued to the computer screen before her. She has her first big break. A book. And she is terrified. So she does the only thing she really knows how to do, she writes. Most of it isn’t fit for publication, but she works out the kinks through the melodic clicking of her keyboard.
Her dream is coming true.
A cough cough year old girl gets up long before the sun to make use of the few brief moments she’s allotted with her thoughts. She pulls out her dusty journal and for the first time in years touches pen to paper. It’s as if her first love has been there waiting for her all along. Life flows from her fingertips and she quickly puts her pen back down, almost breathless.
She forgot how much she loved the art.
This same girl is digging back into the recesses of her imagination and letting it run free again. Hot air balloons and chickens suddenly don’t seem that strange. In fact, it feels like a fantastic adventure.
Today I am speaking at a local career fair on the art and craft of writing. What will I say to them? Perhaps, chase your dreams. Or maybe, don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Should I include have a back up plan?
What advice would you give young minds eager to jump into their own futures?