Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The State of the Short Story Address

Stephen King reported in on the state of the short story yesterday in The New York Times. He says it's alive but not necessarily well. Put his comments together with the report that 1 in 4 Americans didn't read a single book last year, and you might have an answer as to why.

Some of the best short stories I've read have been written by 6th graders. Twelve year olds aren't jaded. Creativity is something that comes naturally to kids. The teacher requests a short story about a blade of grass, and the kids come back with amazing tales. The online editor in their brain exists at that age, but they tend to ignore it.

Imagination and creativity used to be the backbone of our country. It would seem that imitation and regurgitation are the prevailing methods of production these days. When my kids are excited about an experience they've had, my immediate response to them lately is "Write it down! Spew it forth! Do not edit!" I want them to know the joy of stream of consciousness writing. Clean it up later - for now, just write!


Kappa no He said...

I need to go read that today. I was curious what he was going to say about it. And yes, kids are so artistic. Everytime I go to my son's school I spend thirty minutes marveling at the artwork on the stairs.

Rebecca Laffar-Smith said...

I suddenly wish I were twelve years old. :-)

I encourage the creativity of my children as well. I like to imagine how different life would be if we never learnt to censor ourselves. "From the mouths' of babes" come remarkable things. From their pens as well.

It's a shame that reading seems to fall further and further out of fashion. In this fast paced world people forget to slow down for the truly magical things. I can't imagine the empty lives of those 1 in 4 who didn't read a single book last year. :-(