I’ve always loved stories. Books line one entire wall of my parents basement, double-shelved in some places. The built-shelving in my old bedroom at their house still holds a collection of books that range from Sweet Valley High to a Little House on the Prairie. I even belonged to a book club for preteen girls for awhile, getting a selection of books every month, ranging from a melodramatic teen tear-jerker about a girl who had meningitis and lost her hearing and a gem like The Face on the Milk Carton.
The written word has always been important to me, but when I talk with today’s teens about writing and books, most just wrinkle their noses and tell me writing is boring and that they don’t like to read.
I’ve always thought that good writers were first voracious readers.
And we’re raising up fewer and fewer readers—and even fewer writers. So, my question is: Who will be the great writers of tomorrow?
We live in a society that says everyone can write. Google the word fanfiction or check out the number of self-published ebooks on Amazon if you don’t believe me. And while it’s true that anyone can write, we’ve lost focus of the craft of writing. Gone are the days of a well-crafted, beautifully constructed prose that leads us into the story and introduces us to characters we’ll never forget. We’ll accept hastily written stories, rife with plot holes, bad grammar, and stilted conversations and call it good literature—even when it’s not.
So what does this mean for the future of literature? I don’t know. But I hope that somewhere out there—whether its a self-published ebook or a big publishing house best seller—that someone is writing the defining piece of literature of the early 2000s, the “classic” that will be on the must-read list of our grandchildren’s children.
I hope that young writers continue to write, even when their friends think it’s uncool because they know they have a story to tell.
Because no matter the format, the written word and the innate human love of story will never fade—and we shouldn’t have to accept sub-par storylines and flat characters.
So, prove me wrong, writers. Go out and write the next great classic.