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A writer in the family

girl_writingThere are a lot of things Schuyler might choose to do with her life. At fifteen, she doesn’t entirely know which options are open to her and which are unlikely. And really, neither do the rest of us. She’s old enough that the professionals in her life feel comfortable beginning to close doors for her, and I guess that’s a pragmatic enough approach. As her father and her champion, however, I reject that entirely. I’d like for her teachers to join me in overbelieving in Schuyler, but it’s not necessary. Schuyler will do most of the heavy lifting in finding her own path. And a funny thing often happens when we overbelieve in her. Sometimes, she succeeds. Sometimes Schuyler finds a way.

These days, Schuyler is interested in writing, which of course makes me happy in the most egotistical and selfish way. She writes, and not just for class but rather because she likes it. She wants to take her imagination and put it into motion. She doesn’t usually write about herself or her own life, not just yet. Schuyler creates stories, almost always of the fairy tale variety, and she peoples them with heroes and villains and princes and queens, and monsters. Always monsters, usually antagonists but not always evil. Even now, she understands that sometimes the monsters of the world simply have their own agendas, and they need to be taken seriously.

She prints off her ever-evolving stories and brings them home for us to read. During the day, I’ll receive texts from her, telling me she’s stuck in her story, and what should she do? I give her the best advice I can, things like instead of continually creating new characters, she needs to pick a few of them and send them on an adventure, and to follow them through their own story. (That resulted in a character raising an army of ten thousand monsters. So yeah, solid advice.) Her influences aren’t sophisticated, and it’s easy to see where her ideas come from, but she’s learning to take the movies and books she loves and use them as points of departure. Talking dragons may show up in her stories, but they make better choices. No black arrows are going to fell them from the sky.

It’s early for Schuyler. Her use of language is still idiosyncratic in a way that belies her long journey through unorthodox communication. She’s still finding her voice, in every way that phrase can be taken. But in her writing, I see Schuyler’s own anxieties come to life, and I see how she tries to settle them. In her stories, monster hunters don’t kill monsters. “They find monsters and they calm their angers,” she tells me.

I think that’s just marvelous. They desperately need someone to calm their angers. I can think of no one better than Schuyler.

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One Comment
  1. Carrie Pandis
    May 18, 2015 | Reply

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