CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One of my closest friends, former WVU journalism prof Pam Hanson, co-author of scads of books (I've lost count), was recently telling me about her college son's somewhat sudden interest in writing. She's totally thrilled, and adorably proud.
As important as writing has become in my own life, I understand Pam's excitement, imagining the validation she must be feeling to have her child embrace that which she and her husband have made their life's work. To have offspring who want to follow their parents would be such a thrill.
Even more, Pam's managed to draw her son into a world where you never really age out.
Most parents understand the importance of introducing their children to sports -- how it provides more than just exercise. They get to experience being part of a team, learn the importance of practice and develop abilities they'd not previously known.
Finding a sport they can continue to play as an adult is a bonus, as much business is done on golf courses, between tennis matches and on basketball courts.
Yet every sport eventually ages out. There will come a time when they're no longer improving, when they start playing slower and tiring faster. When other limits arise.
With writing, it's just the opposite. The more you do it, the better you get. Age doesn't slow you down. If anything, you only get faster. The beginner mistakes are shed, the self-editing goes faster, the characters become easier to build since you've met more real people whose traits you can use.
Plus, just like sports, writing builds character. And not just your own, but ones you make up.
Sure, young whippersnapper types jump into the spotlight every now and again, but that takes little wind from our sails, as the size of the playing field seems to stay roughly the same.
I've noticed that many gatherings of writers I've been part of tend to feel like support groups, and even though we may technically be competitors, that never seems to deter the writers I know from sharing news of potential new markets and contests.