I recently spoke at career day at my son’s intermediate school. Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students filed in for my session–kids who’d indicated an interest in being writers. Probably 75 percent were girls, 80 percent were currently writing creatively, 85 percent were smart, and the other 15 percent were brilliant (I know a number of them.)
We talked about the passion that makes a person want to be a writer, the precision a person must gain by writing a lot and always seeking to improve, and the paycheck a person must have to really get launched.
Then we talked about plot, character, setting, and conflict.
Those bright eyes were looking up at me–so hopeful, so dreamy–that I might have walked out of there under the delusion that all children love to write and want to be writers.
Except that I ran over my time, and in came the S.W.A.T. team.
They were scheduled for the next session in that room. They arrived, buff and businesslike, in their fatigues and flak jackets, with ordnance in camo-green cases under their arms.
I–in my ink-stained blue jeans and obligatory sweater, with tennis shoes whose laces were shredding–was an utterly unrecognizable genus of manhood compared to them.
And, as my brilliant, dreamy flowers filed out of the door, in filed a crop of kids who had signed up to see the S.W.A.T. team.
They were 100 percent boys, 100 percent crew-cutted, 100 percent ready to strap on a stinger missile and rock and roll.
Not everyone wants to be a writer.
But I am glad some people want to be on S.W.A.T. teams. After all, guys like me don’t have the temperament. I break a sweat when I have an overdue library book.
So, I left career day glad that there are writers and glad that there are S.W.A.T. teams. Let’s hope they rarely mingle. Or, if they do, let it be a writer wanting to write about a S.W.A.T. team … not a S.W.A.T. team wanting to, well, swat a writer.March 28th, 2009
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