Monday, August 31, 2009

Never Thought I'd Say It: Teenagers Rule!

Maybe it's something in the water the kids drink along the Treasure Coast of Florida.

I had the pleasure over the weekend of teaching the Teen Writers Workshop , a half-day seminar in Vero Beach. I feared the worst: eye-rolling, unmotivated, smart-alecky students who made it abundantly clear they'd rather be hanging at the Indian River Mall. Hey, I remember myself as a teen. I'm surprised my mama still speaks to me, almost forty years later.

Instead, I got the opposite end of the spectrum. Talented, motivated, SMART high school writers who renewed my faith in Teen Nation. Most were from the surrounding area, but some came from as far as Miami and Orlando. And two sweet English girls visiting their grandma spent their afternoon writing instead of cruising the beach. Amazing.

Honestly, these kids were so good, they should have been teaching ME. I laughed. I cried. Really. One girl's poem, written from a prompt I provided for a quick, five-minute exercise, was so heartfelt, I burst into tears in front of all 60-plus students and some parents. Very professional, I know. I'd blame it on hormones, but it was really just good writing.

And it wasn't just their creativity that impressed during the three-hour workshop. It was also the support they offered as fellow teen writers ventured, bravely, to the front of the room to read what they wrote. The other students listened, applauded, validated. I only had to do the shushing gesture once to some overly talkative teens. In three hours. I've seen far worse behavior from some adult audiences. (I'm looking at you, Mr. Arrogant Cell Phone Man).

As an author, I'm watching over my shoulder. I guarantee you, several of the students I heard read on Saturday will have book contracts someday. They'll probably sit on Oprah's couch and sell a zillion copies. Their work will be optioned for the movies and TV. They won't remember the little people, like me.

I wonder if the utilities department in Vero Beach would be interested in bottling up some of that Treasure Coast water?


Kerry said...

What a pleasure to hear kids gave up a saturday to improve their communication and writing skills.
I saw the teacher in action--it was symbiotic for sure.

BTW, do I know that cell-phone-man?

Joyce Lamb said...

How cool to hear this, Deb. Sometimes all we hear about teenagers is how irresponsible and selfish they can be (cuz, you know, adults are NEVER like that). I happen to know some pretty amazing teens, too!
Thanks for sharing. :)

nonooz said...

Beware. Them's your competition.