ENCOURAGE THE YOUNG TO WRITE by Salvatore Buttaci

ZZ1.Remington Typewriter

 

When I had my first writing published in the New York Sunday News in 1957, my parents thought it justified buying me a Remington typewriter. I loved that machine! I kept it in the corner of our kitchen, safe in its dark brown case, and after homework, I would carry it to the kitchen table, remove it from its case, and sit there thinking of what to write.

Sometimes not a single idea would come, but my father would remind me that success one day would depend on my own willingness to persevere. He encouraged me to learn the writing craft and to practice it daily. So when I would sit there staring at my Remington, my sisters occasionally poking fun at me, my parents would scold them. “Sal’s thinking up a story,” Papa would say. “Go watch television!”

And there were nights when poem or story ideas came late and I’d be banging away at the keys while Mama and Papa slept in the very next room. I’d typed a poem, a story, a dance of words that at the time I doubted was anything to sing about, but I so loved my parents! How could I give it all up? Find a new hobby when they believed so strongly in me? How? When they loved what I wrote, regardless of how amateurish it was? When they read everything I wrote? I kept writing. I have not stopped since.

From an early age I realized that if I shared my writing with family and friends, it encouraged me to write more often. It provided me with a reason to study hard and earn A’s in English. Metaphorically to me, the act of writing was a bird that could grow wings only if I shared it with others.

A favorite college professor of mine, Dr. Shahani, an author and friend of T. S. Eliot, once told our creative writing class, “A true poet is not one who pens his words in a garret, alienated from others, but one who shares his talent and his poems so others might learn to love poetry and want to become poets too.”

Writing is a craft we learn and practice day by day. If writers claim they love the craft but do not indulge in it daily, the question is, Why not?  They should try to write at least a poem a day or work on a short story –– something!  They should also become avid readers of books, including those on the writing craft. By writing a lot, they will always have new material to submit for possible publication.

Writing is like finding a treasure too precious to keep hidden. As an English teacher in middle school and high school, as well as a writing instructor in college, I did my best to teach my students to love writing. Once they were caught up in my own enthusiasm for the written word, they too wanted to write. Achieving that, I knew they’d be more inclined to learn grammar and composition, improve their writing, and finally be anxious to submit for publication their poems, stories, and letters to the editor.

Once published, they were encouraged to keep writing and what fueled them was a stronger self-esteem, one prerequisite for success in any endeavor. They learned not to fear letters or notes of rejection, but to enjoy them because they came with the writer’s territory. There would be less of them as they improved.

I told them the story of my rejection wall in the basement where I would paste those rejections from editors and publishers. I explained that rejection was a necessary and natural condition because no one is a perfect writer and no writer can please all editors.  I have been writing for over 60 years. Each week I submit my work: some earn acceptance, some, rejection. I edit the rejected, if necessary, and submit it elsewhere.

I never allow the market to scare me away. Last year I had two letters in the National Enquirer, one in February and one in March.  I was paid $25 for each letter of 50 words!  Now this periodical with over 8 million readers should have scared me away, but I tell myself: What do I have to lose?

I never loved anything more than writing since age nine.  Stickball and poker may have come in second and third but never first. I consider my ability to write a gift from God Who loves us enough to give each of us some kind of gift. To thank Him, I write daily, I submit my work to publications so that my work can be read by others, but I never regard writing as my ticket to fame and fortune. I am just one more writer among a billion out there. I do enjoy being read. I love it when folks buy and like my books Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts. I too would like to be recognized as a great writer, but what is more important to me is that I can continue writing every single day. My satisfaction is derived in the act of writing. That’s why I keep doing it!

I believe God gave me the writing gift because He knew the kind of boy I was and the man I would become: easily discouraged, not tough enough to accept life’s negatives,  weak in faith, unsure of myself –– all these things to which I answer daily with poetry and fiction. It is my way of confronting life, saving in my work those I love who passed from this Earth, accepting the harshness of life’s bad things and remaining hopeful they will be followed by good things, and loving God more each day for loving me more than I deserve. So no matter what, I write because it’s the way I fight my demons and remain on the right road to where my soul dreams one day to be.

ZZ1.-clipart-boy-writting

Parents and teachers, be on the lookout for talents in your children and then  encourage their development. Without your help, children usually never realize they have any talents and consequently lose them.

As a boy I was fortunate to have had perceptive parents who made my writing appear to be a good way for me to please them. How they beamed when I would read my new poem or story! I also had several teachers in my youth who also encouraged my writing. So, now as parents and teachers, you must do the same.

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Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available athttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci

His book A Family of Sicilians… which critics called “the best book written about Sicilians” is available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008
He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.
www.salbuttaci.blogsport.com

www.twitter.com/sambpoet

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14 thoughts on “ENCOURAGE THE YOUNG TO WRITE by Salvatore Buttaci

  1. Kenneth Weene

    Since penning my first poem in fifth grade, I have always loved the process of writing and of sharing my work. While I didn’t become a teacher and therefore didn’t get to encourage young writers, I do take an active part in our local writers’ meetup groups. I also host an open mic and am very delighted when young people take the opportunity to share their work.

    As a fan of Sal Buttaci’s poetry and short fiction, I am glad that his parents supported him the way they did. My parents did eventually give me a typewriter as well, but the reason was different. They couldn’t read my letters to them from boarding school. At least there I did receive some recognition for my literary efforts.

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  3. Charline Ratcliff

    A phenomenally important piece, especially with International Literacy Day having just been this past Monday. While I understand the larger picture behind International Literacy Day, the basic tenets of this day, and its subsequent goal, require writing, reading, and/or learning encouragement and nurturing of the young (and older alike). The ‘aha’ moments/lessons/realizations that you have been kind enough to share, are moments that each individual experiences and then needs a manner in which to positively benefit from. Writing, reading, and sharing with others certainly provides a means to do so…

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  4. Salvatore Buttaci

    One advantage of writing and sharing the end product with others is the camaraderie one feels within the writing community. We are never alone, never lonely, never up there by ourselves in that tall tower of our everyday lives. How blessed we are!

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  5. Micki Peluso

    Sal, This is a wonderful piece on the origin of one’s writing. Like Ken, I penned my first poem in fourth or fifth grade and it even rhymed!! I also got a Remmington typewriter as a graduation present in 1959 and while I was/am a lousy typist, i loved that grouchy old machine. And Sal, you are one of the strongest, most resilient men I know and I am proud to be called a friend of yours.

    Micki

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  6. James Secor

    I must confess that sometimes I am like an immature young teenager in my envy over the support and encouragement given to others as they grew up. My first “encouragement,” at age 7 or 8, was, “Oh. You can do better than that.” About 20 yrs later, my first produced play was met with stony silence. And I was told that art was not at all practical. I did, however, get great encouragement for my typing and I got quite good. My little portable lasted me through my dissertation. Computers have been the bane of my existence. I guess it’s OC that kept me writing–OC and a fit of temper. Other writers who had a technique or style that touched me kept me learning and developing. My mother and I were the only readers in my family; although she did not necessarily like what I was reading, she never stopped me. In all my teaching–writing and lit–I ever encouraged but never expected anyone to write, to become a writer. In the end, 3 students did so, one in 2 languages. I could not be more proud of them. Another, already on his way at 19, has become a translator. But writing every day? Not. And not from block; from “I don’t feel like it.” When involved, though, I’ll write up to 12 hrs in a day. Publication? As much luck/timing as perseverance. I still occasionally get livid at the stupidity of agents and editors rejecting my brilliance. Poetry, Sal? I’m unsurpassable at bad verse.

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  7. Linda Presto

    What a wonderful piece! Thank you, Sal, for encouraging me as you were encouraged! I will always be grateful for your love and support! I hope my students will feel the same about me someday 🙂

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  8. Marta Merajver-Kurlat

    Sal, you were blessed with understanding parents that did not write themselves. My mother was a writer and, at the time she met my father, he owned a publishing house -a short-lived venture. At age 4, I played at writing hammering on the keyboard of mother’s discarded Underwood. In due time, my father gave me a Lettera 22. In between, I had filled, crumpled, and thrown away hundreds of pages which, like you, I had shared with my parents and friends; which had been praised also, but I never believed such praises sincere. Mother wanted me to take up writing; I went in for translation, teaching, others. Only after she passed was I able to go back to writing, and I believed my writing was reasonably good only when a publisher agreed to invest in it. You are a multi-talented man; one has to be insensitive not to enjoy your diverse genres. Both your work and your encouragement of others through stories such as the one you tell here speak of your generosity. You, Sal, are above all a giver.

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  9. Martha Love

    Sal, thank you for sharing the importance of writing in your life and the importance of the loving encouragement that you were given by your parents to write. It is really a wonderful story!

    As you have expressed, encouraging writing in young people is so valuable. I had not thought about it before reading your story, but now I realized the full importance of a single key teacher that encouraged my writing and changed my life one day. In the 5th grade, I wrote a short screen play and was encouraged by my teacher to direct it in front of the class. I remember being surprised that she liked it so much because I had no idea it was any good (it was about a girl who never brushed her teeth). But my teacher, Mrs. Carmedy, was so enthusiastic when we performed the play (clapping and yelling “bravo bravo”) that I felt like we had just staged something on broadway. This huge self-esteem building experience—having my writing accepted and performed for an adoring audience— was a pivoting point in my life that directed me for the very first time towards success in school.

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  10. R.L. Cherry

    A nicely-worded piece. Writing, like any skill, has some to do with natural talent, but also a lot to do with training and exercising that skill. As the old Graham Nash song says, “teach your children well.”

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  11. Monica Brinkman

    A great insight into why authors ‘write’. Certainly not for fame and fortune, though that would be a wondrous outcome. No, as you have pointed out, Sal, it is the need, the passion, the urge and I hope all parents and educators will encourage our young people to pen a bit of fiction, short story or poetry. You, Sal, are one of the best writers I have had the pleasure to know. Thank God you took up that pen at a young age and continue to do so today.

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  12. Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins

    Sal, thank you for sharing yourself again. I ˙have found many people in this group who have been encouraged by your words, your support and dedication to have a compassionate way with others. I’m so happy to say that includes me as well.

    This piece reminds us all that communication is what we are all doing in our writing and to be encouraging to others is exactly the same skill needed for success. I never had the support while growing up but have sure found it here. While reading and enjoying your piece, it gave me hope to continue writing as I felt encouraged yet again. Thank you.

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  13. Linda Hales

    Sal, I think Rosemary said it all and oh so well! What I take away from your meaningful offering is a clear directive to nurture the aspirations of our children to become the best they can be. Yes, we are talking about the practice and love of writing here but your message can be applied to all professions. Excellent advice, superbly written and lovingly shared. Thanks Sal!

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