by Nina Chabanon, Age 15, USA
Young people today, especially writers, belong to one of the most driven and ambitious generations in history. This is made possible by the support of loving friends and family, door-opening opportunities, and of course, a range of resources at our fingertips. Most of these resources are on the more obvious side––books, peers, and even Google. However, there is an entire galaxy of writing resources and help waiting for each and every willing young writer behind doors you wouldn’t think to open.
English and Language Art teachers are a great resource for proofreading and editing, because who better to check your spelling and grammar than the people who taught you everything you know about spelling and grammar? It’s important to remember that English teachers have made a career out of their love for all things literature, and they want nothing more than to make an impression on even just one student.
When it comes to asking your English teacher for help on a novel, poem, short story, etc., you not only get all the technical help you need, but yet another devoted member of your fan club! Just envision him or her 10 years from now, gushing about how he helped you, a critically acclaimed published author, proofread your rough draft of what would later become a bestseller. So, if you’re new to the literary world or have little experience with big league editors, swing by your local English department and see who’s up for a bit of goodwill.
Lower-ranked employees at publishing houses may not be exactly what you envisioned when you went looking for professional guidance, but I know from personal experience that they can be quite helpful. When I was 12 years old, I was quite adamant about lining up a publishing deal or at least an editor to look at my work, so I went off calling every publishing company my search engine could conjure up. I finally stumbled upon an assistant to an editor at Harcourt School Publishers, and explained to her my situation. She then spent the next hour illustrating things I hadn’t even considered, such as the fact that I would need a literary agent before attempting to get published and a series of other requirements.
At the end of the conversation, I was discouraged and embarrassed, but upon detecting the enthusiasm I’d possessed, she generously extended a proposal. Along with her personal e-mail address, she enthused how she would love to read anything I had to send her, and in the following weeks I sent her several works, to which she provided incredibly useful feedback. It’s important to remember that these employees do foster a love for reading and writing, and would like nothing more than to be a part of your journey through the literary world. They might not be top dog, but they’re an incredible resource.
Fellow writers could be the greatest latent tool in your belt. You can consider fellow writers your literary fairy godmothers, who have plenty of advice about how to take your writing to the next step. Remember, writers, especially published writers, have been through the revolving door with everything from editors to manuscripts to literary agents. They have the cure to your writer’s block, and can give you honest and viable feedback for your work because they know exactly what publishers are looking for.
If you’re lucky enough to converse with a published writer, such as the Senior Editor of jaBlog!, Laura Thomas, feel free to run a few ideas by them. They’d love nothing more than to inspire a few bright, young minds, and you’ll both be better off for it.
Parents and grandparents may seem a bit biased, but sometimes they can be a real asset. My parents and grandparents are among my biggest supporters, and though their support seems inherent, it also makes a huge difference to me. Some writers are fans of tough love, and people to give it to them straight. But after a long day of people shutting doors in your face, and telling you that you’re too young or too inexperienced, it’s nice to come home to a family of smiling faces telling you your work is amazing.
My grandfather, a self-proclaimed literary connoisseur, has been reading my work since I was 9 years old. He still has every story I’ve ever sent him, and shows them to his influential friends on a daily basis. Through his advertisement, I’ve been introduced to agents, editors, publishers and more, all of whom are friends of the family. I never would have been able to meet these amazing people, let alone make an impression on them, if it wasn’t for the glowing endorsement by my supportive grandfather. It’s easy to forget that you are your parents’ pride and joy, that they are always immensely proud of you, and you never know where their networking might lead. After all, who needs an agent, when you have family?
Blogs are the premiere latent source for all things how-to, or even for a bit of inspiration. In this day and age, everyone is sharing everything on the web and a lot of it could be utilized into your next best-selling novel. Blogs such as Storee Wryter, The Young Writers Blog, and of course, jaBlog!, are all chock-full of tips and opportunities for aspiring writers to truly slay our literary dragons, once and for all. These blogs deliver entries on every aspect of the literary world, from the moment you develop a story to the moment you spot your face on a book at Barnes & Noble.
Not only do existing blogs already offer you an incredible amount of help and support, connecting you with an entire community of young writers such as yourself, but they can also help you in a more personal manner. Millions of writers have their own blogs as a form of expression without any pressure from the outside world. A blog can be as personal as a diary or as widespread as a magazine, but in any case, a blog is a healthy way to practice writing, explore your innermost thoughts, and create a brand for yourself as a writer. It may not be as glamorous as a book tour, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
A writer would be nothing without their tools: pen and paper, or in most cases, a computer, and of course, a dedicated support system. Support could come from your local classroom, a cubicle at a publishing company, the pages of your favourite book, your very own living room, or your bona fide online writing handbook. In a high-pressure world, it’s nice to know that you have so many resources at your disposal, and even nicer to know that using them gets you one step closer to your wildest dreams.
Nina is a 14-year-old aspiring writer from Miami, Florida. She has been writing for over six years and is currently searching for an agent to help her with her ultimate goal of getting published before her high school graduation.