Stacey Longo’s account of speaking to a high school class about writing.
On October 24th, I had the opportunity to speak at the ACT Arts Magnet High School in Willimantic, CT. The topic was Writing as a Craft and an Industry. I opened with a little background about my own writing career and my roots as a humor columnist. After listing my credentials, I explained how hearing Shroud publisher Tim Deal present at a Poe Celebration two years ago inspired me to jump from humor to horror. I also admitted that while I sell short stories about zombies, decapitations, and carnivorous beach dunes, my blog focuses on the humor to be found in every day life, from the perils that come with trying to raise two cats to the agony of eliminating the fish smell in the house two days after you’ve cooked cod for dinner.
My advice to these kids was simple:
1. Write all the time, about anything that strikes your fancy.
2. Read more than you write.
3. Read On Writing by Stephen King.
4. Know your market and what’s selling.
5. Read submission guidelines and follow them.
6. Keep your day job to support your writing habit.
7. Never, ever mistake the Twilight series for quality writing.
We held a short Q&A session in which the students had several questions, such as “Have you really met Nathan Schoonover?” and “Where does Nathan Schoonover live?” followed by the more serious question, “How serious is Nathan Schoonover’s relationship with his significant other?” I had foolishly forgotten how popular this paranormal investigator is with the teenage female demographic before
including him in my ‘Look at all the Cool People You Will Meet’ portion of my PowerPoint.
I left the kids with a short story I’d written about them and a stress ball with my website (www.staceylongo.com). And at the very end of class, one shy girl named Sam asked me if she could send me a short story she’d written about a lonely disemboweled zombie for feedback.
It makes me proud to see the youth of America so inspired!