If Your Child is a Writer

If you have a son or daughter who is a writer, I congratulate you. If you don't know if your son or daughter is a writer, you can find out by observing them. If they are found writing, they are writers. If still in doubt, just ask them. If they enthusiastically break into descriptions of worlds that do not, cannot, or should not exist, your child is a writer.

Of course, at some point, they will want to tell you the story they have written. You should listen. If you are not much of a reader, you should encourage them to go tell it to someone who is a reader. It will do your young writer good.

Following this, at some point, your child will want to expose the world to their writing. Competitions are decent. Writer groups are better. They will help sharpen your child's skills and temper their imagination.

When your son or daughter wishes to be a published author however, say no. Tell them to wait a few years. Find them an editor -- someone who will go over what they have written and do what editors do -- save writers from themselves.

I am writing this because I recently read the first five pages of a book written by a fifteen-year-old before literally throwing it away. Had the kid been someone with no chance of ever making it as a writer, I would have smiled and put the book away. But he had potential. His imagination had breadth and the world he was trying to create could have been interesting.

But he lacked the patience to polish it. He presumably asked his parents to put money into self-publishing it and they obliged. So this badly written, apparently unedited book ended up in a book store with a cover bearing testimonials from reality TV stars who are to books what Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi was to Odishi dance.

It was so fucking sad!

And it is not as if this kid did not try to get published the mainstream way. His introduction said he fought the frustration of rejection from publishers and agents for two years. Frustration? You are fucking fifteen years old. And you are a writer. Your entire life is going to be frustration!

Be a good parent -- do your child a favour and tell them they should wait. I know this is India of 2018 where getting published in your teens is the literary equivalent of a six-year-old doing pelvic thrusts on national television because India's got talent, but it doesn't have to be that way.