It was the last class. The last day of school. Spring 2011. The kids were done with their final and sat in small groups, chatting, glancing at the clock, waiting for the empty, long, lovely days of summer to begin.
One group sat clustered around my desk discussing their writing. One student had written a screenplay but didn’t feel it was quite done yet. One had completed NaNoWriMo and had several more pieces in progress. Another was looking for a publisher for his newly finished fantasy novel, and the fourth had been inspired by Ayn Rand this year and had a novel outlined with one or two chapters completed.
I listened to them, stunned. They were 14 and 15 years old and had novels completed!! I had just begun mine . . . at age 40.
I suggested that they trade phone numbers and emails, so they could workshop their pieces over the summer, and I offered to help. They liked the idea, but the bell rang, summer vacation began.
I thought about this group over the summer and wondered how I could help them with their writing. I had a few ideas but the seed for a website for them, for teen writers who LOVE to write, had been planted.
The next fall, I had a new incoming group of Freshmen and within weeks, a few asked if I would be willing to supervise a Creative Writing Club. Really?!? As soon as I started writing myself, teen writers began to appear in my life, but I had no time between working, coaching Speech & Debate, and being a mom to help them get a club started. Finally, in mid-winter, I proposed my website idea – what if we had a space online where they could post their writing, comment on it, maybe even take Creative Writing Classes? They loved the idea and the seed began to take root. Silly me, I thought it would take less time than a weekly club!
I still worked on getting these kids’ needs met at school and got my administration to approve a Creative Writing class. I wrote a course description and submitted it. Unfortunately, the powers that be “forgot” to put our newly approved course in the course catalog for registration, so no Creative Writing class. Back to my website idea.
Last spring, I resigned my coaching position which freed up my time, but the school year ended with no website and no upcoming Creative Writing Class. I spent my summer and early fall fixing that state of affairs. The process has been a three steps forward, one-step back process. I tried to design a site myself: fail. Hired a web designer: some good but overall fail. Took a web design class online: WIN! (The Girls Guide to Web Design Rocks!!) but definite learning curve there! Took an online course on running on online business/website: WIN!! (Marie Forleo’s B-School also ROCKS!!).
I started this fall with a website in the works and a PLAN. This past fall, the Creative Writing Club finally launched. We had our first meeting in November and its been going strong. We meet every Thursday to write, learn, and workshop pieces. I completed building and designing my website and shared it with them in December – they loved it and this amazing group of young, talented creative writers helped to found . . . www.whereteenswrite.com.
They have been the most excellent group of “Beta” users, finding all kinds of elements of the site that needed tweaking, posting their stories, sharing, and being overall an amazing group of kids. Last week, I decided its ready to go “live” to the world. I “un-hid” the site from google’s search engines and so far, we’ve had a few more kids find us and log on. The seed that was planted the last day of school in 2011 is finally beginning to grow.
The site is designed for teens, ages 13-18, who love to write, who spend their free time writing and dreaming up their stories. If you know any teens who fit this description, I’d love it if you shared the link with them, so they can check the site out and possibly join our little community.
My ultimate goal is to offer online Creative Writing courses through the site. Few schools offer Creative Writing, and there is definitely a need there.
If you’ve wondered why I haven’t been posting here much, it’s because I’ve been posting there! If you’d like to join the email list without joining the community, you can do that on our Facebook page. You can also get updates in your FB news feed if you “like” our page.
What can you do?
- Share the site with teens who love to write,
- Check it out yourself and comment below with any suggestions you have for improvement/changes,
- Go to Facebook and sign up for “email updates” and “like” our page if you want to stay connected to http://www.whereteenswrite.com.