This is a photo of my students (aged 12-17) at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre on the last night of our Creative Writing Lab. It’s always been a dream of mine to host a teen writing club and somehow, through a lucky twist of fate, I became the teacher of this group. These are kids who prefer “real” paper books–reading them is more relaxing–but nevertheless carry stories on all their devices: phones, iPads and computers so as to never be without something to read.
After a full day of regular classes, they chose as their extra-curricular to attend mine. Sometimes they stared at me blankly as I spoke on a variety of genres and writing topics, screenplay writing, poetry, character building, setting, but whenever I asked them to write, amazingly, they bent their heads and elbows to the task. Always made me smile.
The second last week one of the young writers asked me to edit a blog/job enquiry for a science website for students. I was a little hesitant, not about the student so much as the website. Was there some kind of scam behind it?
Sensing my hesitation, she continued, “Please tell me I’m not going to be one of those starving artists/bloggers who can’t make a living writing.”
The million dollar question. My mouth dropped open. I had no ready glib positive answer. “Send me whatever you want me to look at,” I answered finally.
Access Copyright, CANSCAIP, The Writers’ Union of Canada–I belong to and support these organizations in the hope that there will be jobs for our future writers. I push for music, art and content to paid for and thereby validated and valued with these students in mind. No three month trial, or 10% “fair dealing” intellectual grab. Just because you love your work, doesn’t mean you should do it for free.
A week later, on our last class, I summon everything I have to answer honestly but aspirationally, “there will be writing jobs but we don’t know what they will look like yet. You are our future Margret Atwoods, you will shape the industry. I look around at you and have great faith and hope.”