THPW Youth Writing Contest: Celebrating Young Writers!


THPW Youth Writing Contest: Celebrating Young Writers!

Natalie Bright

Texas High Plains Writers sponsors a youth writing contest every year. Propelled by area English teachers, kids grades 3-12 can submit their work in three categories: short story, memoir, or poetry. I judged short stories for grades 7-8, and as with every year I’ve volunteered, the entries were amazing. The depth of emotion and sophistication of the themes are mind blowing. Awarding a first place is extremely difficult, and possible only after hours of deliberation.

This past Saturday afternoon, we held the awards ceremony. The room was packed with the winners and their families. As I watched kids make their way to the front to accept their medals, I couldn’t help but feel a burst of joy.

One of the hardest things is giving a stranger your very private musings to read. One of the most rewarding things in any writer’s life is recognition. As a kid, no one explained to me that the conversations floating through my brain were normal. Strange places and people that were so vivid in my adolescent mind was not a sign of crazy. These are the things of a writer’s imagination, waiting for us to give them wings on the page.

I remember jamming my freshman college schedule with poetry, English and history courses. My father asked, “Shouldn’t you take more business courses?” In the present rise of the Indie Author, who could have predicted that my reluctant shift to business finance and marketing would serve me so well today.

Young writers are oblivious to the possibilities. We are most likely not the most popular, nor do we excel as class leaders. Often, we watched others from the sidelines, observing and hesitant to join in. Even as children, we had an uncanny eye for details, filing the information away to be used later in our stories. We have a slightly skewed view of things, which is unexplainable to non-writers. As I watched those kids on Saturday, I understood that they see the world so very differently; you know what I’m talking about.

After the awards ceremony, I wanted to tell every parent how talented their kids were, and how important it is to celebrate and encourage that writerly weirdness. Their creativity and imagination is boundless. The experience of walking to the front of a crowded room to accept a writing award will remain with them their whole lives.

I guess the main point of this blog is that one day I’ll be able to read their books. I can hardly wait!

Workshops for Writers: I love talking to kids and adults about the writing process. If you have a group who is interested in a writing workshop, please call my office 806.655.4046.

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