We’ve had the most lovely discussions lately regarding when we realized we wanted to be writers or when we knew what kind of children we were raising, all of which got me thinking about my own writing – and the lessons my daughter is teaching me. My husband and I have a daughter who, like most kids her age, is many things: teenager, equestrian, volleyball player, student – but most of all, she is a writer.
For as long as I can remember, she’s found enjoyment in the written word. There were never enough books to be read at bedtime, and every learning unit at school that involved writing was met with excitement. Songwriting, in particular, has been a passion for the past few years, and watching the progression of her skill is thrilling.
What I love most about my daughter’s writing, however, whether story or song or essay or poem, is that it’s fearless. Sure, she worries about grades and sometimes the feedback of her peers, but not in a way that prevents her from capturing her thoughts in writing and sharing them with others. There’s a joy and excitement that’s contagious when she comes running into whatever room her father or I are in to announce she’s finished a new song and is ready to perform it for us. Sometimes she’ll mention casually, “I’ve put something new up on Wattpad and received some comments” or “I’ve been doing some editing for a few people on Wattpad.”
It’s a bit of a mystery the source of this confidence, this willingness to put herself out there and accept or receive whatever may come from the experience; if we’re honest, teenagers are not always kind to one another, especially when you add the anonymity of the internet. And yet, she’s fearless. I suspect there’s a bit of a generational thing at play; after all, she’s never not known technology or social media, and this idea of posting personal thoughts to people one has never met is part of her generation’s normal. It’s bigger than that, however, as she’s equally willing to perform a new, barely rehearsed song she’s written at a school event.
The pleasure and joy she experiences through her writing, the way she uses it as an outlet for an overwhelm of emotion or as a means to process a situation or experience, her ability and willingness to share with others and receive feedback – it’s a powerful reminder that reading and writing can and should make us feel good, can help us navigate the complex, challenging, emotion-filled journey of life. And also that sometimes, perhaps more than sometimes, we as adults can overthink to the point that we remove the joy from the thing. (Me, yes, I mean me.)
The magic is in the fearlessness with which she pursues her writing, and the joy and release and community that the writing allows her to experience. Those things she can carry with her always, regardless of where her life journey takes her. (Besides, who can stay mad about a messy room when the teenager says, “I forgot to clean my room, but I finished a new song – want to hear it?!?”)