I was able to sit in on the final day's shared reading of a Writopia Lab writers workshop. If you are not familiar with Writopia, they are a group that hold writing workshops for young authors. They are based on New York, but hold workshops in several major cities. This week coincided with a week that I was going to be in D.C. and my daughter was not going to let this opportunity pass.
The larger group was broken off into more intimate groups of three or four. The schedule was not enticing for anyone other than budding wordsmiths: 3 hours each day of writing and critique. Nothing else. No hiking, no zip-lining, no pool, no horseback riding, no end of week dance.
And so they wrote. My "how was your day" questions were answered with "greats" and "awesomes". There were little details offered. I caught a "the girls in my group understand the words that I use" and an occasional "her story is so interesting because...", but little else. She came home each day with a little more confidence, something that has been missing throughout this last year.
The last day ended with a public reading of each young author's work. Only then did it start making sense. There were stories of betrayal, stories of the overbearing feeling of responsibility, stories of struggle, stories of everyday objects and tasks stalking an otherwise normal life. They wrote, not what others wanted to read, they wrote what they needed to say. These kids came from all over, from as near as D.C. to as far as Dubai. They were not "cookie cutter children". Their literary voices were as varying as the colors of their skin. The critiques of each others' work were kind and meaningful, always pointing out the nuances of the individual's writing.
They all had something different to say. They discovered their common thread in their fearless ability to say it.