Those who know me have heard me complain about how old I feel at 22. In fact, one of my father’s friends tried to console me by assuring me I will have a “long shelf life.” Actual years aside though, it is easy to feel old and expired when you come across someone younger than you who has it going on. But when this young firecracker asked to interview me about my children’s book The Misadventures of Melvin the Missing Sock, I realized afresh the unique power of writing in bringing people together, who otherwise may never have met.
And so, I give you Dylan McDonough: author and editor in chief of The Bugle Blast.
Mr. McDonough launched his newspaper in October of 2017, after his grandmother suggested he find a way of compiling all his literary creations into a cohesive form. You see, Dylan was a serial storyteller. He grew up stapling papers together to make books, as well as creating comic strips alongside his younger brother, Daniel. With the seeds planted for a newspaper, he began to plan and outline the format and types of content he would produce. He described the priceless satisfaction of seeing all his work merged into one document, stating that the final product convinced him it was all worth it.
This led him to develop an online training course for aspiring writers trying to find their voice. In the mutual interview we conducted together, he reiterated the importance of exploring your creative gifts as you go.
“Writing a lot of different things helps you figure out what you’re best at and what you enjoy,” he explained. He encouraged young writers to experiment with different forms, such as short stories, comics, and opinion pieces.
Dylan also reminded me of the writer’s worst enemy: perfectionism.
“It’s okay not to be perfect,” he added. “It’s not always good the first time. Editing is hard, but you have to focus on the final product.”
And then he offered a piece of wisdom I have never heard from any writer, young or old.
“When you’re stuck on something, you realize your own character flaws.”
I certainly hadn’t. Don’t we all bemoan writer’s block as the bane of our creative existence and a plague to be avoided at all costs? (If only masks could protect us against this one.) But Dylan recognizes that, no matter how hard we try, getting stuck is inevitable. And it’s not always a bad thing. It shows us how we react to roadblocks. It shows us how impatient we are—and provides us an opportunity to choose a different reaction. After all, if we only ever focus on producing, and never on becoming… what good will our writing do us? Or those around us?
He mentioned that one of his favorite parts of writing is the relationships it’s helped him develop—both inside and outside his family. Interviewing his grandfather for The Bugle Blast offered a unique forum in which he could both learn from and bond with his grandpa. How many kids might benefit from doing the same with their grandparents? He has also managed to build a community of peers who enjoy writing and have encouraged one another in their talents over the years. Together, these young writers are learning and growing by leaps and bounds. But you know my favorite part of this whole thing?
I got to meet him because of writing. Or rather, I got to become his friend because of writing. So many people imagine writing as a very solitary activity. And it is, when you’re in the middle of it. But writers, just like everyone, need community. We need people motivating us to become better. We need people to learn from. What I’ve learned from Dylan is that no age is too young to assess your own character, set goals, and actualize those goals. Success and personal growth don’t come overnight, and self-starters like Dylan will have the advantage of years of practice by the time they reach the big leagues. Years of practice mean years of learning. And I can’t wait to see what else I’ll learn from Dylan.
Got kids? Grandkids? Nieces and nephews?
Or are you just plain curious to find out where all the missing socks go? Find out one ambitious sock’s journey by ordering your copy of The Misadventures of Melvin the Missing Sock!
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