As a writing teacher and mentor, part of my job is helping kids get ready to submit their work for—you got it—public scrutiny, either in the form of a reading, publishing in a literary journal or for an award.
I have to practice what I preach as well—having goals inspires us to write at our highest level, and more importantly, to complete projects.
It is both rewarding and inspiring to help them strive toward excellence.
Tomorrow is the deadline for my Westchester Writopia kids in grades 7 through 12 to submit to the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. I have nine students submitting work, and all are worthy, in my humble opinion, of some kind of recognition. (In the last three years, Writopians have won the most awards out of any group of kids.)
Yet it doesn't always happen, does it? We don't always get rewarded or recognized for our efforts. Last year I had two students submitting, both in the same age group and category. Both are excellent writers: yet only one of them was awarded a gold key.
(I think there might be a chance that I was more disappointed than she was.)
I want my students to feel empowered by their writing and their voice in the world. And they do! They are.
So I'm anxious, excited, proud: if some of them don't win, so be it. All of us suffer some slings and arrows for our art, and we keep on trucking, keep refining, keep practicing. And we learn that any art form is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - yet we have to be in it to win it, and to feel strongly about our right to be in the game. (Or at least fake it!) You all know very well that this is something I myself struggle with. (Why wasn't Writopia around when I was a kid?)
This month, Writopia Lab in Westchester will be hosting two Open Mic events, to celebrate the students who have finished pieces this past fall. The first one will be at our beloved bookstore in Larchmont, The Voracious Reader this Sunday, January 8th from 2PM - 3:30PM. The second one will be on January 20th at the Mt. Kisco Library, from 5PM - 6:30PM.
If you live in the Westchester area, please come and support these wonderful emerging writers and let them know that they are all winners. (And if you know of a child who loves to write, this is an Open Mic, so they are welcome to come and participate in these events.)