Last week, I drove to Fernley, Nevada to give a talk about writing to 8th graders in the library at the Silverland Middle School. It was a great time.
I always love talking to kids because they are much more willing than adults to say what they think and ask the questions they are wondering about. So our conversation ranged over a wide territory. I was especially pleased when I asked if any of them had written fiction, a short story or otherwise, and most raised their hands. When I asked how long these stories were, the shortest number of pages I heard was 6 pages, and the longest number was 15.
In a world where we Boomers often think of younger generations as being hopelessly stuck on their video screens, it’s a great reassurance to be in a library surrounded by books (including mine!) and hear kids interested in, and talking about, reading and writing stories.
Writers know, of course, that stories will never go away. But we sometimes wonder if the future of storytelling is going to be exclusively in movie or video form. Once again, kids have given me reassurance that my ancient craft is not moribund. Yea!
Now comes the other cool part of going to Fernley. (For those of you who are curious, Fernley is about 30 miles east of Reno on Interstate 80, deep into the mountains of Northern Nevada.) To get there from Tahoe, I drove to Carson City and then turned east into the desert mountains, drove past the turnoff for Virginia City and continued east until I got to Silver Springs. From there it’s north a dozen miles to Fernley.
I knew this was Mustang country. And there were signs along the highway warning about the presence of wild horses. Even so, I didn’t expect to actually see wild Mustangs. But I saw 4 HERDS OF MUSTANGS! Gorgeous, majestic, frisky, energetic horses. The smallest group was 4 horses, the largest was 12 or 15 horses. Three of the groups were on nearby hillsides, and one was right next to the shoulder of the highway.
I’ve always thought that horses are the most beautiful animal on the planet. And, truth be told, Mustangs are probably no more beautiful than domesticated horses. But there’s something about their wildness… I think it may just be that when you see horses out on the open range, not fenced in, their striking beauty is more dramatic.
What a treat that day was! Talking to kids who are eager book readers and seeing Mustangs.