Writing to Change the World

Recently, Vicki Cobb posted on the I.N.K. (Interesting Nonfiction for Kids) blog about writing to change the world. I’ve been pondering this post for days. On one hand I think all authors, especially those of us who right nonfiction for kids, are trying to change the world to some degree (maybe more than Vicki alludes, even). Yet that seems like such a lofty, overblown, and, dare I say pretentious?, goal–one that many of us would hesitate to say out loud (thank you, Vicki!). After all, as beginning writers we are told over and over again, “Don’t teach!” Of course, nonfiction by its very nature must teach. So I’ve struggled with balancing my desire to teach, inspire, empower and yes, influence young readers with the need to remain impartial and simply tell the story. Not enough emotion and the writing is dry and boring. Too much passion and it comes off as overzealous and preachy. Striking a healthy balance is where the work, and the magic, lies.
Today I attended a writing intensive offered by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. One of the exercises she had us do was simply to make a list of the reasons we we write. Here is what I wrote:
Why do I write? I write:

  • to empower children
  • to give kids a voice, especially those who haven’t yet felt heard
  • to teach
  • to help kids discover their authentic selves
  • to help them honor and respect those authentic selves
  • to share what is important to me with future generations
  • to make the world a better place going forward

In short, I do write to change the world, one reader at the time. I guess I’ll just try to keep it a secret from the kids.

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    3 thoughts on “Writing to Change the World”

    1. Upon reading my comment after I posted it, I worry that what I wrote implies I think you are simply “simple and sincere.” oops! Not what I meant. I meant your list seems very you. It also seems clear and honest. Anyway, whatever, I’m trying to say I really like it. thanks for posting.

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    2. Lovely post, Laurie. I think it is good for us – any of us, regardless of what our passionate task is – to reflect on the WHY of what we do.
      Have you read any Mary Pipher (Reviving Ophelia, The Shelter of Each Other etc.)? She has written a book called (interestingly enough) Writing to Change the World. It is wonderful, and I think you might like it. Cheers!

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