I continue to be awed and inspired through my involvement with WriteGirl. Every year, WriteGirl publishes an anthology of work written by both mentees and mentors in the program, and this weekend was the book launch of their latest publication. It’s called You Are Here: The WriteGirl Journey, and it’s a beautiful volume that contains some really affecting, emotional prose and poetry, as well as some wonderful writing exercises for the teenagers in your life.
The book launch was held at the Mark Taper Auditorium at the L.A. Public Library on 5th Street in DTLA, which is a beautiful building and a great space to work (support your local libraries, y’all!). I was there volunteering to help sell books at one of the book tables at the event, but I was also able to attend the actual reading…
It was incredible. About fifteen girls read their original work from the anthology, and I was flummoxed by how good their work was. It reminded me of how much potential and fearlessness I had as a young writer, and I have to say I envied them. They wrote in a way that I used to, but seem to have forgotten. Putting everything on the page shamelessly – because when you’re a teenage girl, you don’t care how “melodramatic” you sound. You’re not guarded, or ashamed of your feelings. And even though many of the girls seemed nervous to be reading their work in front of people, some for the first time, they certainly weren’t nervous about committing their intense, unfettered emotion to the page, and it gave me a huge amount of respect for them. It also reminded me that that part of myself is still in here somewhere, and I have to remember that even though my craft as a writer has improved, it needs to be balanced out by the fearlessness that only disappears with your youth if you let it.
If you’d like to support and encourage that fearlessness, I strongly urge you to get a copy of You Are Here! It’s a great read for adults, and it can be an inspiring gift to give a teenage girl in your life, even if she might not otherwise be into reading or writing on her own. There’s something about reading the work of your peers that’s different and special, and if you can give that gift to a young woman you know, it can be an amazing thing.
And lastly, there’s going to be one last volunteer training on February 1st, because there are still so many girls who need us. So, if you’re in the Los Angeles area and want to help, it’s not too late! Visit the WriteGirl website to find out more!