This week marks the fifth Monday that I have spent with the young writers of Four Oaks. Each week, we IYWP volunteers present the young writers with opportunities to express the vivid inner lives that they lead every day. I feel safe speaking for my fellow volunteers when I say that each of these visits leave us more and more inspired and excited to return.
Part of what the IYWP does is publishing the work of its young writers. This entails hanging on to their first drafts until such a publication can be managed. For this reason, I don’t know if the young writers realize how much work they have produced in the last five weeks. Each young writer has a portfolio of his or her own work, albeit collected in one big binder.
My goal for myself before next Monday is to create individual portfolios for each young writer, containing both the handwritten, original work and a typed copy. This way they can see the physical manifestation of their efforts.
This will also enable us to hold a workshop next week in which we focus, not on the critical aspects of writing, but on giving positive feedback. Hopefully, the young writers will inspire themselves with their own work and feel compelled to add to and craft their existing stories.
In this way, the IYWP can illustrate how writing is a cumulative endeavor, a process. Often we write something for school or for ourselves and, once we close the file or turn the page, we forget that our words exist in the world. But they do!
The words of ten or so young writers are constantly circulating in my brain throughout the week. The characters of Rainbow Puff and Chickenbot have become my daily companions and inspirations.
Such creations deserve a larger stage than I can provide them. I am excited to see how the writers of Four Oaks approach preparing their creations for this larger stage.
Stay tuned! Perhaps December will yield an opportunity for the whole IYWP community to relish the work of these amazing writers.