Friday, September 5, 2014

Yes, I want to compete in the middle school Power of the Pen competition. Is that so wrong?

For the last two years I've had the opportunity to see first hand the power of the Power of the Pen writing competition. My daughter has officially graduated from middle school and can no longer compete, but I find myself strangely drawn to it. I think one of my new goals is to become famous enough to be a "celebrity" judge at one of these competitions. Why?

1. Power of the Pen puts creative writing at the forefront and gives talented young writers a place to shine. Sure, the judges' taste is sometimes not aligned with what you might write, but you get to go and spend a whole morning putting pen to paper and bringing your own world to life. Nothing like that existed when I was in middle school.

2. Some of the prompts are just so fascinating to explore. Too often we go into writing with a plan for what we will do and we languish trying to put words on the page. In Power of the Pen you get a prompt like: Alien Invasion or Walking Too Fast and you just have to go with it. For forty-minutes you write. I call that freeing and delightful.

3. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don't. Not every story is going to sell, but some of them shine through. Power of the Pen offers a ready audience and free critiques. Every comment you get from a judge is something many authors would pay good money to get their hands on. Sure, some of it is pollydoodle and should be ignored, but writing takes a tough skin and Power of the Pen helps you see that some people will love what you write and some won't. The important thing is that you keeping writing. For you. And nobody else.

I wish I had a machine to make me middle school aged just long enough to compete in this competition. On balance, grown up life is way better than middle school life (there's hope my friends!) but this one thing is a perk of being under fourteen. I say take it and run! When you do, send me your stories!