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  • Advice
    by MariaH at 23:24 on 12 January 2014

    I've been more than a little stunned today to read a school assignment written by my niece's 16-year-old daughter.  I knew Nicole was good at English, but I'd never read any of her work before and it took my breath away.  It's a very amusing and incredibly well-written article (I reckon about 1,500-2,000 words, but I didn't really count) taking a swipe at the madness of Xmas.  For some reason, I'm not sure if this is what the school asked her to do, it's written from the viewpoint of a mum-of-four.  I know we can all be a little over-proud where family are concerned, but, trust me, this really did have the expertise with words you'd expect to find flowing from the pen of some Fleet Street journalist - and at sixteen, wow!

    I haven't spoken to Nicole but I did suggest to her Mum she should submit it somewhere.  What I was wondering is, can anyone think where?  I personally think it would appeal to Mums in their thirties who have a very modern outlook, a great sense of humour and are sooo glad Xmas is over! winkHope someone can perhaps help? smiley
  • Re: Advice
    by NMott at 23:48 on 12 January 2014
    However well written, do you think the 16 year old will be able to cope with the inevitable criticism/critique (however well meaning) from their peers, readers and fellow writers, that is the bane of a writer's life? It may stop them writing. 
  • Re: Advice
    by EmmaD at 10:30 on 13 January 2014
    Naomi's got a point that it's worth going a bit carefully with writing by children and teens - tempering the wind to the shorn lamb, 'n all - but on the other hand I know from my own daughter, who writes, that it can be hugely energising to find that what you've written speaks to someone.

    Most such stuff in mainstream mags and stuff is commissioned: it's very difficult to get anything looked at that's sent in unsolicited. But she could try the creative writing mags and competitions - Mslexia, for example.

    Or these guys:


    are great - print mag and website.

    One other thought, speaking as a parent more than a teacher of writing... It's horribly tempting for us to be so thrilled by the evidence of talent that we pile in with suggestions and encouragements... Sometimes they just aren't terribly interested -  writing it was enough and actually they prefer Physics.

    Sometimes, I fear, what they pick up - rightly or wrongly - is that we're feel that getting a good grade and having Mum and the class enjoy it isn't enough: that there's more they should do. And I think that's sometimes why they resist: what they wrote for pleasure or homework just becomes one more way that their family covertly or overtly tells them what they "should" be doing.  I find I have to say such things in a very "I don't know if you'd be interested, but you could... " way, and then Shut Up, and never mention it again. If they do nothing more, that's their problem, not mine.
    Edited by EmmaD at 10:31:00 on 13 January 2014
  • Re: Advice
    by Catkin at 10:39 on 13 January 2014
    She could try some of the national newspapers if she wants to publish it. They are more approachable than one would think, and they have loads of space to fill - all those supplements and feature pages. And their pay-rate is brilliant. I'm thinking The Guardian, particularly.

    It's possibly a bit late to be selling Christmas-related articles, though, this year - would be a good idea to query first, so she doesn't lose the chance just because it's the wrong time.
  • Re: Advice
    by MariaH at 21:59 on 13 January 2014
    Many thanks for your great advice, guys.  In particular, you have a very valid point about her being only sixteen so treading carefully re the possible criticisms.  When I next speak with her Mum (my niece) I will tell her that if Nicole does decide to submit to make it very clear in a covering letter that she is sixteen as it does read as though it's written by a much more mature person.  That will make it pretty obvious that it's fiction and not based on the actual shrewd observations of a mum-of-four,wink but it should ensure they will be quite considerate of her feelings in any reply.  Probably way too early to submit in time for next Xmas, but gives me plenty of time to check out the places you've suggested.  smiley
  • Re: Advice
    by EmmaD at 22:36 on 13 January 2014
    "it should ensure they will be quite considerate of her feelings in any reply. "

    I wouldn't bet on it. Not that they'd set out to be horrid on purpose, just bluntly professional. We all know that it can be quite hard to take.
  • Re: Advice
    by NMott at 22:48 on 13 January 2014
    I agree with Emma , but professionals are the least of her problems. Readers can be vicious, as has been shown by several articles in papers like the Guardian, that have had to be removed online after attracting negative comments that have stepped over into personal attacks. 
  • Re: Advice
    by MariaH at 09:47 on 14 January 2014
    Thought this over last night and decided, taking the benefit of your advice, it might be best if I don't persuade Nicole to submit the article after all.  It IS the type of article that would attract a lot of comment and she IS way too young to deal with any negative criticism.  She'll be headed for Uni in a couple of years so can find her feet in the world a little bit more then.  Look out for the name Nicole Palmer in the future and remember you read it here first! wink
  • Re: Advice
    by Freebird at 10:28 on 14 January 2014
    That sounds wise. If she's destined to be a writer, she'll have plenty more good stuff to sub in the coming years anyway.
    And that's a very good point about the expectations on children to pursue something further just becaus they're good at it. My daughter's teacher said he would eat his hat if she didn't become a writer (or words to that effect) but she says there's no way she wants to write for a living - she'd rather do something with food or design.

    Mind you, whatever she chooses to do, Nicole's skill with words will make her chosen path much easier because she can communicate so well. My PhD supervisor always said that I had a big advantage because the writing came so easily to me, even though it was a science PhD and I was fairly average at that bit!