One of the books I liked most was 26 Homegrown Words. I really hate it when I am reading an article and the writer makes up a new word (the type that they put in quotation marks). The English language is full of words; why do we need more? Then I read an alphabet book and realized that sometimes I feel jwift (You'll have to read the book to find out what the word means). So, perhaps it's ok to make up new words. It got me thinking about how cool it would be if one of my students created a new word. Think about it: if you were middle-schooler and you took some feeling, object, action or thought and picked a combination of letters to describe it. Then, later, you found that someone you had never met was using the word that you had created. . . well . . . wow. . . wouldn't that be empowering?
In my mind, creative writing is disrespected. Consider Jules Verne. Some people consider Verne to possess a prophet-like status because of the way his novels describe technology that wasn't invented until decades later. Verne didn't have visions of the future, he created it. Generations of engineers and scientists grew up reading his books and then went forward and built the world that he had inspired. It takes creativity to find solutions to the world's problems. We need more people who are able to see a world, a better world, that does not yet exist. Math can solve a lot of the world's problems, but mathematicians need something to inspire us. That inspiration is likely to come from language and, in particular, from creative writing.
Related reading: Neil Gaiman and reading fiction.