Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Guest Blogger: Editor Jennifer Moody "Be an Inspiration to a Young Writer"

Be an Inspiration to a Young Writer

A few months ago my daughter’s 2nd grade Teacher asked me if I would be a guest speaker for her class to discuss writing and editing with her students. I showed up with the book “Eats, Shoots, and Leaves” and we all sat in a circle on the floor and read through some of it. After discussing the importance of editing (in between giggling over the book’s examples), we moved on to the topic of being/becoming a Writer. I showed them a few magazine articles I’ve written and they thought it was cool that I had a by-line. I told them that unlike other career choices, you don’t have to be a grown-up before you can start. Anyone, any age, can be a Writer. Of all the things I talked to them about that morning, THIS one was the topic that would not be dropped. They were fascinated … they could be a Writer right now? Even though they’re only 8 years old? …Yep.
“The expert at anything was once a beginner.”
The kids were more into it than I thought they’d be. Several of them shared with me that they write, or like to read, etc., but there was one particular little boy who asked me a dozen questions. The Teacher said, “That’s my little Harry Potter reader right there.” He was a sponge, asking questions, sharing his love for reading and writing. I left there hoping, praying, that I made some kind of impact on the kids, this boy especially, because he so clearly has a love of the art. (Maybe he’ll be famous one day and dedicate a book to “Mrs. Moody who came to my 2nd grade class and told me I could be a Writer.”)
The Principal (who stopped in to hang out for some of my visit) asked me if I’d come back to guest speak to other classes. She said higher grade levels do creative writing and she thought having me visit with them might boost confidence and get the creative juices flowing. I happily agreed, not only because I want to help, but because of a past experience…
When I was in the 9th grade, my English Teacher told us we were going to do a three week long poetry project. I was beyond thrilled. I had been writing poetry, secretly, for a few years. After class I shared my secret with her, and she asked if she could read my work. I had never shared my poems with anyone, so this was a big deal for me that someone actually wanted to read my work. The next day I brought my folder of poems to school and gave them to her. I had zero confidence in myself back then, and I think I said something like, “They’re not very good, but here they are.” I walked into class every day and waited expectantly for her to give me some feedback. After two weeks I asked her about them and she said she hadn’t had a chance to read them yet. The next day I walked into class and saw my folder on her desk. I was excited and nervous to hear what she thought of my poems. She called my name and when I got to her desk she handed me my folder without saying anything. Working up all my courage, I asked her if she liked them. She dismissively said, “Yeah, they’re good.” I knew, without a doubt, that she was lying – she hadn’t read them, or hadn’t read much. I was crushed.
Looking back, I can see that she was probably just busy or distracted. I’m sure she has no idea the impact she had on me. But it would be ten years before I shared a poem with anyone again, when I wrote my Mom a poem for Mother’s Day. Even though it was my mother, I was terrified to give it to her. She read it, hugged me, and through tears said, “This is the best Mother’s Day gift I’ve ever gotten.” That was a turning point in my writing confidence. (Thanks Mom.)
As an Editor I am sometimes asked by Writer friends to read their work and give my opinion. Some Writers are trying to break into the Editing field and ask for my advice. I help everyone as much as I can—whether they’re asking for suggestions on building up an editing business, or requesting pro-bono editing for their seedling novel—if I can do it, I do it.
If you’re a more seasoned Writer or Editor … contribute, inspire, encourage. Look at a beginner as a potential comrade, not competition. The world of greatness has plenty of room for all.
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your dreams.
Small people always do that, but the really great ones
make you feel that you too, can become great."
~Mark Twain
Be a “great one” to a young writer. I promise you that one day that beautiful karma will come floating right back to you.
Be blessed, y’all.
Jennifer Moody is a Professional Editor and the Owner of MoodyEdits. To learn more about Jen, visit her website at You might enjoy her take on living a happy life, on her blog “Editing My Life One Day at a Time” at And if you wanted to be nice, you could like her Facebook page at