Gayle Brandeis, student writers, and Open Mic Night

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I loved a couple of things that Gayle Brandeis, our guest author for the student writers’ conference on March 28,  had  to say about being a writer.

She spoke about her toddler son, and how motherhood–walking with a child who stops to explore the world–helps her to “slow down and see things in a new way.” She also mentioned one of the most important things a writer can do: “Read as much as you can–other writers’ words free you.” (I truly believe that whether you are a writer or not, writers’ words free you, teach you, give you examples of how to deal with life and all its drama–which is why I decided to be a teacher librarian, in the hope of bringing that fREADom to others.)

Seeing in a new way is the difference between a mediocre writer and a good one. In fact, writing itself will help you “explore the world with creativity and freshness.”

While I was thinking about writers and student opportunities for creativity, I opened my Sunday newspaper to find an article in the book review section about Figment, a “literary site for teens . . .launched in December 2010.” The managing editor, Jacob Lewis describes it as “‘a user-generated platform.'” Their slogan is ‘write yourself in.’ They are receiving the Innovator’s Award at the LA Times’ Book Prizes at this year’s Book Festival.

“‘Young writers want a place to experiment, to take a risk and get a response,'” observes [Dana] Goodyear [New Yorker staff writer], “to have that daring feeling of putting themselves out there.” Because of this, she adds, it’s key that Figment function as part of “their creative lives” — a telling choice of phrase that suggests the credit the site gives its users, the faith that they are serious about their work. This in itself is a radical concept, in a culture that tends to think of teenagers in terms of market share.

To read the entire article, go here. To go to Figment and try it out, go here.

As I think about creative opportunities for teens, I hope that those of you who find creative expression in writing will come out to our Open Mic Night at COHS on Thursday, April 12 (7:00-8:30 PM) or to the Ovitt Open Mic Night (downtown library–closer to Chaffey) on Wednesday, April 11 (5:00-6:30 PM) and read your best poetry.  We’ll have prizes and refreshments. Let’s honor the creative soul within!

Thanks to the students who came to the writers’ conference, with a special thanks to so many students from LOHS, who had a bit of a drive. (I wanted to post your pictures, but only have permission from one parent, so maybe next time!)


About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
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