On the weekend my eldest nieces sent me their writing samples for the upcoming Blue Pencil Cafe at the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick’s WordSpring festival. One did poetry and the other a short story. I was blown away by both of them.
The short story is complete even though it’s only 750 words. I think that makes it flash fiction. The writing is tight. She is only 16 and she seems to have already gleaned the lesson of making every word count and using them sparingly. I wouldn’t get that lesson until I was in my thirties. And as you can see on this blog, I don’t remember it often. The story itself is adventurous, exciting, dangerous, about spies and killing and things that I would never write about because it is so far removed from anything real in my life. She is completely off in the world of her imagination. And it is a vivid place where she isn’t afraid to let anything happen. Is this genre writing? I don’t know. But the author who is going to blue pencil this with her will know. He is the perfect person I think because his own writing likewise goes off on adventures with spies and detectives, assassins and the like. I am excited for her. I think her session will go well. And I can tell her she has natural talent and a lot of skill until I am blue in the face but it will only take her so far because I am always going to be her auntie even if she respects my writing and editing skills. But for an outsider, a published author, to give her praise and tips and advice … that will be so amazing for her.
Poetry was never my strong suit, though I have taken workshops on it and have had poet friends give tips and advice when I’ve had the need to try and construct a poem. When I have accepted poetry submissions to the magazines over the years, I have been unable to edit them, have published them exactly as they arrived because I never know if what seems like a typo actually is or if that was the poet’s intention. They are deep mysterious characters to me, these poets. They know things, I don’t know. I would never in a million years try to break into their club with my small arsenal of non-fiction and fiction writing tools. But my other niece is in the clique already, at the tender age of 16. The three poems she chose to submit are all very different. She did that on purpose, she said. Of course she did! Like I imagine all good poetry to be these are all the result of some deep thinking … some really deep thinking! I read them in awe, wondering over every little thing … why are the lines broken in that way? How did she decide to purposely misspell that word to give it a double meaning? Where did the idea come from to use brackets to off-set that word? I couldn’t pick which one I liked the most because they were so different, each one unique and interesting in a new way. I could never provide feedback of any kind, poetry is so far out of my realm and she appears to be really in it. I think she will have an awesome session too because I know the poet/ professor who will be in the Blue Pencil with her and I know he will be kind and encouraging and honest in his feedback.
I think both Blue Pencil leaders are going to be blown away by these two young girls. Yes, I am biased, but if I received their submissions without knowing they were only 16 years old I would never imagine they were both still in high school. I think they will be the hit of the whole festival. I know all my friends and colleagues in the organisation will be so supportive and encouraging of them. I am so excited to take my nieces to this event!