The Next Generation of Writers

If my experience this week is any indication, the writing world is in great hands with the next generation.

High School students
The winning students and their fabulous entries!

I had the honor of judging a high school writing contest. About 200 entries were pared down to 15 poems and 12 short stories. It was my responsibility to choose 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each category.

I agonized over the decision! The short stories and poems were, not surprisingly, socially oriented. Believe me, if you think high school students are too busy playing video games or worrying about date night to notice what’s going on in the world, you are mistaken.

From decisions on whether to shoot endangered species, the disappointment and anger involved in discovering the American Dream just may be out of your reach, to a feeling of “Non-normalness”, the students I spoke to are very aware of the short-comings in today’s society and will not be ignored.

While I listened to one young poet declare her anger at the government’s immigration policies, and another talk about feeling different and being bullied, I still had hope. Hope from their words, their poetic lines, and the determination on their faces.

These weren’t kids who had simply entered a contest; they were writers spilling out their thoughts and dreams. Even after talking for a couple of hours about some really tough circumstances, we left laughing and happy to have had the chance to meet like-minded souls.

So, the next time you sneer at a teenager typing into his phone or tablet, stop and consider he or she might just be writing the next New York Times bestseller. Even if that’s not he case, your outlook on the world might just be changed by their words, their creativity, and their inspiration.

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