Sep 10 Written by  Catherine Rankovic

What's Best For Young Writers

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In high school I submitted to my English teacher three poems for a regional contest. She sat down with me to discuss revisions. She said a certain stanza "cheapened" one of the poems. Would I agree to take it out? What did I think about that?

I had no sense of separation from my work and did not know enough to judge it, so I didn't have thoughts; I had feelings. Swamped in a wave of embarrassment and horror at having cheapened a poem without knowing it -- it was my first "workshop" experience -- I listened to the teacher and "agreed" to remove that stanza, and also to jettison one of the poems entirely. I remember being relieved that this latter was done without detailed discussion of what was wrong with it.

I won first place and $10. This set me on the path I walk to this day.

Except it taught me one thing: When working with youthful writers, be really really generous with praise and support. Criticize very little. Young writers need support. They have no idea what they're up against. Encourage them.

488 Last modified on Friday, 09 February 2018