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brymble
February 24th, 2010, 02:17 PM
When I a kid, my dad was working on revisions of the Letchworth park guidebook, and books on Ham radio and antennas. He had an office/library, and I spent many afternoons sitting in a patch of sunlight streaming through the window by one of the bookshelves, reading poetry, stories and encyclopedias, or scratching a pencil across filched typing paper, listening to the hum and clack-clack-clack of his old IMB Selectric. It was a powerful anchor for me, and I often return there when I need inspiration and focus. Dad's desk was huge and oaken and miraculous, and its drawers held many secrets. I regarded the desk and the heavy old typewriter with a kind of worshipful awe, the mysterious altar and ceremonial apparatus of the magus of words.

My uncle gave my brother and I our first typewriter, an ancient manual that used ribbon spools and those wonderful old round keys that altered book artists just love. Dad would read us his stories, and I'd show him mine. My brother and I each had desks in the dining room where we could sit and create. I think I was in middle school when he gave me my first copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style. In high school, my dad started taking me to open mics at Writer's and Books in Rochester. When I won the Masonic arts scholarship award, the first thing I bought for collage was an inexpensive electric typewriter, which I literally wore right out with constant use within 10 years or so.

I have two kids now who are creative and intelligent and who have a lot to say. Next week I'm taking them to an open mic, I'm hoping they'll actually write something. When Damien was just getting used to having a baby sister, I used to take him on "artist dates" to coffee shops where we both would sit and draw together, and its occurring to me I should do the same thing with writing.

Those of you with children, how do you share writing with your kids? What do you do to encourage children to write, not just because they have to in school, but for the sheer love of it? I think that's what's missing from a lot of education: it's compulsory. Kids read and write in school because they "have" to. Where's the love?