Taking their storytelling beyond the classroom
Mary Reed, president of the local Scribblers Writing Club, believes it is good for young student writers to see their works published.
"When they fill out a resume to go to college or get a job, they can put that in their resume. I am a published writer," she explained.
Soon, 17 Crook County High School students will be able to make that claim. Their poems and short stories, crafted and revised in a creative writing class led by Rebekah Picard, will appear in the Scribblers fourth anthology, "Wherever Rivers Run."
The Scribblers, which is comprised of local writers who gather once a week and share each other's work, first produced an anthology about five years ago. Reed said that student works were intended to appear in that publication, but club members decided that since it was their first attempt at publishing a book they would stick with the writing of club members and see how the process played out.
Two more anthologies would follow, and the club filled the pages of those books with stories and poems written by past members and other Scribblers who had passed away but left some of their writing behind.
"This year, we decided to do another one, and we decided this was the time that we would contact the high school and see if there are any people who would like to submit stories," Reed said.
Picard was happy to provide her with writers. The creative writing teacher had already assigned multiple short stories and poems from which to choose for submittal.
"I have a lot of students who produce really wonderful writing," she said. "So when Mary came to me and offered to publish things in their anthology, I encouraged students."
Most of Picard's students were thrilled to publish their work, although a few of them let a little self-doubt creep in, causing them to question whether their writing was worthy of inclusion in a book.
"Through a little encouragement, I think they gained the confidence they needed," she recalls.
The 17 students who volunteered to submit their work to the Scribblers looked over their material from the school year and selected their favorites. All of the poems and short stories had already faced the scrutiny of other classmates and only needed to be polished up a bit more.
Some of the students turned in a short story, but the majority favored their poetry. Some of the poetic works adhered to a certain assigned premise, while others were written without any specific format.
The students learned about the opportunity to publish their writing late in the first semester, which concluded in late January. They turned the final version of their writing in to Picard on Feb. 14.
Freshman Abbigail Chaney submitted her poem "Hidden Beyond the Horizon," which she says examines finding who you are and no longer hiding in the shadows.
She agrees that it is important for young writers to see their work published.
"It makes us feel like we are writing for a purpose, not just for school," she explained. "I was super excited about it. I told a bunch of people I was around at the time. I told my mother, and she got excited too."
Junior Drew Finley tackled the subject of alcoholism and how it affects a family in her poem, "Chapters."
"I think it is cool to show what we have been working on, and that we are not in a creative writing class just because it is another elective," she said. "It is something that we actually like to do."
"It's a real cool experience," junior Connor Daly adds, "because it allows people to see that high schoolers are capable of making this work rather than just adults later in life."
Daly submitted a poem titled "Life's a Party" that examines the different ups and downs in life.
Lynnette Taitano turned in two examples of her writing. One is a poem, "Lady Evergreen's Forest," that tells the story of "a person who kind of plays God."
"Her name is Evergreen and she creates humans and then realizes they are too perfect," the high school junior explained. "Then they break away from her, and she realizes she made a mistake."
Her second piece is a short story called "Trail Ride Mountain Side." In it, Taitano tells the story of a girl who has gone up into the mountains to commit suicide. But once she reaches the destination, she is so taken by the beauty of the landscape that she changes her mind and goes on to live a long life and die peacefully years later.
Taitano is intrigued by the idea that people years from now could pick up a copy of the Scribblers newest anthology and read her work.
"I think it is really inspirational," she said.
Reed hopes to send the new anthology to print by July 15, if not a little sooner. The writing group will then host a reception in early September and invite any student writers who are able to attend.
"Each student who submitted works will get a free copy of the book," she said.
And that may be the moment when the significance of getting published is fully felt by the young writers.
"Until they actually see their publication in a book, it won't fully hit them," Picard said.