Brave and proud, young writers discover their voices

Being a writer and sharing your words with the world takes a certain amount of courage. Those of us who have been writing a while sometimes forget that. But I was reminded of that courage last weekend when I attended a local literary festival for young writers in elementary, middle and high schools. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I was there with my son, who was invited to attend the middle school workshop.)

The event was organized by the local chapter of the International Reading Association.

Parents tagged along for some of the sessions Saturday morning and I was most taken with the opportunity students had to share their work with one another.  They read a poem or a few paragraphs of their work to the rest of the group.

That took a lot of courage for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that they were sharing in front of adults and other kids—most of whom were strangers. Or is it easier to share your work with people you don’t know?

I was really blown away by some of the writing. These kids could write! There was a poem about being alone but not lonely, a science fiction story with some promising world building, a love poem, and part of a story about Roman soldiers sent to battle Macedonians. Quite a mix of words and ideas from this young group.

Aside from the different writing styles, what struck me was the sheer courage to stand up in front of a group and read their work out loud. That’s hard enough for a grownup let alone for a 12 or 13 or 14 year old. I’m sure for many of the kids, this was the first time they had ever really and truly shared their words.

The adults were invited to chip in and offer a critique of the kids’ work (many of the kids did a good job of critiquing on their own), but mostly I was glad just to listen. The only time I did speak up was to congratulate them for having the courage to share their work. It was very brave, and for me, it was rather moving to watch these kids nervously find their voices and then sit back down with obvious looks of red-faced pride on their faces. Congratulations to them, and I hope it’s just the beginning of an exciting writer’s journey that will last a lifetime.

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