You edit a magazine, a newspaper, a section of a newspaper, a blog. Whatever your platform does it’s damn good at it, whether your schtick is politics, interior design or irony. Lots of people turn to you daily – you’re an authority in your sphere and your content is good – reliably, consistently good.
You have writers who bring your readers back again and again, relishing the next installment of their wit, or vitriol or effortless prose. You have figured out your stance, the timbre at which your publication’s voice will sound. Maybe it’s been sounding for centuries. It has a reassuring familiarity among your audience, they know you, they like you, they’ll click back soon.
But you need fresh blood. Sure, it’s great that you are distinguished, that your voice is known, that your readers trust you, but don’t you want more? There are so many talented young writers out there, our voices as yet unknown, our prose-styles untested – I am asking you to take a risk on us. These remote writers, at the moment peripheral to your scene – the bloggers, the tweeters the kids who try desperately – will bring your publication a freshness and vigour.
True they are inexperienced, as were you once, as were all your regular writers, but they are also keen, determined and hungry to write. In this they will sparkle.
Do you remember when you had your first writing assignment? You were so eager to get everything right, you invested all your time in it. Not a word out of place, this piece had to shine. The task was a gift – it had been entrusted on you to write something for publication – and you were going to do it brilliantly. There was nothing of the workaday world about this job, it was not just another one of many, another day in the office – it was the best damn thing that had ever happened to you.
I remember grabbing the phone, hands shaking to tell my parents that I had actually had something accepted in The Independent, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Awl. The feeling is exhilarating, and the adrenaline courses through your body and brain, causing you to write the best damn thing you can, and edit as much as is asked, even if this means staying up all night. This has to be perfect Dammit.
Sure, a young writer will make mistakes, as will anyone starting out at anything, but mistakes can be pointed out, corrected, and young writers are quick to learn. Do you not want this sort of passion in your journalise, the unusualness of a voice not yet versed in the ways of journalism yet different and beautiful for this?
Sure, there is a lot to be said for the weight of experience, the authority of knowing your craft, but not enough is said for youth, for inexperience, for the yearning to write and write brilliantly which a young writer can bring. And the young will be experienced soon enough, if you give them a chance.
And one last thing – please do not take advantage of young writers and their naivety and eagerness to please. If you pay most writers then please pay the young ones as well, they need it to keep doing what they are doing. Enthusiasm is captivating for you and your audience – remember this and pay for it as you would for experience.
Love and thank you for all the chances so far, a young writer