I’ve always thought that writers weren’t meant to be important. Instead, our job is simply just to be in the presence of important things; we silently observe and get to ride along on the coattails of cool. What I learned yesterday, however, is that I was wrong. Writers are far more than the sum of their “job”. I also learned that bald eagles are whiny little brats and my patriotic reverence of them has been shattered.
Yesterday morning, I spent a couple hours with the Writing Wild camp at The World Center for Birds of Prey. It’s the first year this camp is running. We toured the facility, went on a hike, met a falcon named Stella, and played a weirdly beautiful game called “pin the prey on the food web”. Through all that, we did what writers will always do: we wrote. We told stories, we laid out our experiences in a way that allowed us to make sense of them, because, again, that’s what we believed our jobs to be; writers write, and that’s a fact. But Mollie, the teaching writer, had other ideas. She wasn’t going to allow the kids to settle like that. So she sat them all down and told them to change the world.
A biologist at the center had spent 30 minutes explaining to the camp that every bird they saw today was in trouble; their habits were declining due to humanity being…humanity and now they were running out of options. Mollie asked the kids what they, as writers, could do to save the birds. While that seems like a heavy responsibility to put on nine-year-old shoulders, the lesson Mollie was going for was a little bit simpler: writers have a lot more power than simply making things sound nice occasionally. We’re story tellers and story tellers can save those birds because they can make the world want to save those birds. Writers can be motivators and teachers and comedians and friends and basically anything that they need to be.
But most of all, they can be important.
–Ashley, camp intern from The College of Idaho