I spent most of this week in the great state of Ohio speaking with creative writing students at LCCC in Elyria. The staff was kind enough to invite me out there and the students were kind enough to care. Though I've done many school visits, this was the first time I spoke with college students and it was a fantastic experience. They were so eager to learn all that they could, and though I know I've been doing this for a long time, it's easy to forget that you have anything to offer.
Writers rarely have the opportunity to discuss their craft. Or rather, they rarely have the opportunity to discuss their craft with an audience that cares to listen to what they have to say. Most people think writing is the simple process of sitting down and making up a story. Not that they have any illusion of it being it easy, but they don't understand the amount of work that goes into it. So having an audience of young writers is a wonderful experience. They have already experienced many of the difficulties that come with the writing process and therefor are aware that you are speaking from a position of authority and come prepared with interesting and challenging questions.
It always impresses me how motivated young writers are. I was once that way. We all were. But somewhere along the path of life, motivation becomes something more akin to dedication, like that of a tired old man still cutting his lawn rather than paying someone else to do it purely out of stubbornness. One of the reasons that I love visiting with young writers is that their enthusiasm inspires me at the same time my advice inspires them. The best experiences are those who benefit everyone involved.