Zeitgeist


Today I spent the day teaching in an intensive writing workshop with young West Australian writers. They are in their second year of a four year creative writing program that the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre runs for secondary school-aged writers. Each term, young authors from schools across WA engage in a whole day of creative writing workshop with an Australian author.

The kids today were mostly in year 9 and 10. They were sharp, funny, passionate, readerly and obsessed with writing. Every time I set them a task they wrote like fury. It’s such a treat to be able to work with young people who share your excitement for words and stories.

The students have been selected for their love of the written word and must be avid readers to take part in the program. I spent two weeks working with FCLC talented writers in 2008 and it refreshed my enthusiasm for writing and my admiration for the young. A day spent with these students gives you a real taste of the zeitgeist. Although there were a solid group of committed fantasy readers and writers amongst today’s cohort, the tone has shifted. It’s less important that the characters in their stories be endowed with magical powers than have an organic ability to shapeshift. Other students were more interested in realist fiction, still others in philosophy and a number of kids expressed a fascination with horror writing. The fictitious characters that they conjured ranged in age from 8 to 84 and represented a huge cross section of human experience.

Crime is on the rise – or at least the characters in many of the young writers’ stories are more likely to be caught up in situations that are laced with menace. And there were a whole crowd of girls with very gorgeous, stylish boots. One day, these young authors will be formidable as they stride across the stage at writers’ festivals around the world.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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