The Kid can Write
National blog post month – blog #4
He’s distant from me like most teens are from their parents, and then some. My 17 year old decided to go live with his Dad full time at the start of last school year, in a city that is half a day drive or a 45 minute flight away. I hear this is common for teen boys. It doesn’t hurt less.
I miss him and I’m proud of him. He’s getting excellent grades, has a job, and can drive himself around. He avoids social media (almost entirely, except YouTube). He thinks drugs and alcohol are stupid.
I’m most proud of him lately for his determination to express his ideas and creativity. He’s actually my inspiration for #NaBloPoMo.
At the start of this term, he assigned himself a writing project: 100 (Google doc) pages in 100 days. He’s on target and his ability to build worlds, characters, and political dynamics in the plot is incredible.
I say incredible with the full meaning of that word: he’s maybe read two or three novels, ever. I used to read aloud to him before bed (mostly kids science fiction), and I like doing the voices and stuff, so he has had good exposure to the essence of storytelling. But I could never get him to sit with a book, possibly because his own head was bursting with stories. I honestly don’t know where he’s developed his impressive use of written language though.
He feared writing, and had many false starts, for a long time. We’d walk to school or hike trails just so that he could release all the stories in his head. One of his epics spun off several versions and timelines, and some of the worlds he built while we circled the nature sanctuary are re-emerging in his project.
I can’t tell you much about it though. I’m sorry. You’re really missing out.
He is protective of his work for a few reasons. One is that he wants to publish his writing someday, I think. I mean, I hope.
I think when he does, he’ll find his people. He’s brilliant, funny, discerning, and too mature in many ways for his peers. He probably won’t look back fondly at most of high school (as most of us can probably relate). I’m excited what might come next for him though.
Perhaps, selfishly, what I love most about him writing is that he shares it with me. I get to watch the words spill out of him in real time some days. He just creates, seemingly effortlessly. Barely edits (has me for that, and I feel mostly useless). When he gets a crazy new idea, I get a FaceTime request. It’s the best.
I asked, sheepishly, the other day if I could share some of his work, expecting a hard no. He’s not going to let me share is 100 days project, but he is fine to expose a little bit of a short story he’s just started.
He came up with the story while fighting a fever recently. The kind where the mind wanders deliriously and vividly. He warned me I might be grossed out by it, so I might warn you too, but it’s really poetically veiled references and nothing graphic.
The story is called:
Hunting Like the Fly
The sun makes my skin itchy like a pestilence. The flies don’t seem to be bothered by it. I believe that flies have no skin, and cannot get sick like me.
I miss the delights of the somewhat hostile households of the settlements. The smell of flesh tranquilised my nerves and sent the locals into a hungering frenzy. Even just to see a sliver of meat would satisfy my hunger for a cure. The majority of the withering masses were too poor, or were too weak to indulge in flesh. I know with a burning envy the riches and abundance of those in the high towers. They feed their dogs with the finest cuts of flesh. Even so, they let the majority of their possessions rot for all to see, and hunger.
I have seen the lavish lifestyle of the high towers with my own two eyes. I have seen nothing but brutality since then. Men down here tear each other apart for as little as their bones. This system is self allocating, eating itself and its inhabitants to keep alive.
That’s all he’d release for now. And I’m not sure if I can reveal more of the plot, but I’ll just say that his ideas rival the dystopian speculative fiction concepts in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (yes, I’m his Mom, so you can assign appropriate bias here if you’d like.)
Finally, reflecting on my job as a parent, I struggle to know how to support him with this passion. The talent is undeniable. He now also has the grit to develop the finer tuned skills.
I think the biggest barrier is that as he contemplates work, and making a living, he’s not sure how creative writing will fit in. Like, how will it pay the bills? Will he have the time and energy to keep it up as a hobby? We’ve talked about screenwriting, writing for the gaming industry too, but we assume he needs some experience first.
As he approaches grad, and potential post secondary decisions, I’m in search of references for programs he might consider. If you know of one that is stellar, please drop me a line!