This post is dedicated to A. O'R. and P. D., both of whom are not allowed to read this blog for another two years.
'Never let anyone look down on you because you are young.' That's a good sentiment, that is, right there. And I'm privileged to know many, many talented young people who abide by it. These 'kids' are amazing examples - people with amazing talents who are out there doing something with them.
To those of you who write, I applaud you. There's no better time for learning how to write, for practicing writing, than now.
People will tell you you're too young; that you haven't had enough life experiences; that your writing will be over-written and melodramatic, shallow and uni-dimensional. People will tell you that your choice of genre is wrong, or even stupid; that you don't know enough, haven't read enough, haven't done enough or felt enough or lived long enough to know there's another side to the story.
These people are right, but they are also wrong. Because these are the people who see their own shortcomings and let them be an excuse. They are the ones who find something wrong and run away from it, who discover they aren't so good at adverbs and so quit using them, who fall over the first time they kick a soccer ball and never do it again.
These people are the quitters.
You, you young people who write - you are not quitters. Your writing probably will be over-written and melodramatic - but so is the writing of a lot of beginner writers, regardless of age. You may not have lived a broad range of life experiences - but neither have many adults. You might not have read widely in every genre on earth - but you can become a voracious consumer of your genre, and you can listen to the advice of other people who are more widely read. And yes, this still applies to adults and to those who have been writing forever. You might not have lived the other side of the story yet - but you know what? Neither have many adults who cling to their childhood hurts.
And above all else, you are not quitters. You will not let your limitations become barriers to success. You will find ways to overcome them. Where you do not know, you will ask. Where you have not experienced, you will find people who have. Where you have not encountered, you will research. You will imagine and believe, and contrary to public opinion, used correctly, these have far more power than any experience you can have.
Because mere experience doesn't change you. It's how you think about it, how you process it, that makes the difference. And you, who are deep thinkers, are capable without experience of more than any person is who has experienced without thought.
Young writers, I admire the heck out of you, and can only hope that one day I will be as innocently enthusiastic about life as you are, and that I will be able to approach each day, each sentence, each word, with the same passion and joy. For you are living, not merely being alive.
And to write, you must live.
For the rest of us, today's the day: find a young writer you know, and tell them how proud you are of them, of what they're trying to achieve. Writing is hard. Everyone deserves encouragment.
And to A. O'R. and P. D., never give up. Never quit. And I hope that in two years' time, when you are allowed to read this, you are still writing just as vivaciously as you are now.
Thank you - for sharing your writing with me, and for inspiring me. Thank you.