WriterHouse and the NEA Big Read Finale

writer-605764_640Throughout the month of March, JMRL has offered events for all ages based on the themes of this year’s NEA Big Read selection: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. In addition to her acclaimed work as an author, Tayari Jones supports the development of young writers. She has served on the Board of Directors for Girls Write Now, an organization that pairs high school girls with women writers and digital media professionals in one-on-one mentorship program. Inspired by this, JMRL has partnered with WriterHouse to offer a similar program for several middle school aged girls in Charlottesville.

These students will read from their work during the NEA Big Read Finale at CitySpace this Wednesday evening, March 29th, at 6:30. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

In advance of the reading, we asked one mentor and student pair to reflect on their experiences writing.

“What Inspired You to Start Writing?”

Hannah Russell, 8th grader & Mentee at The Village School
Jess Brophy, poet & Hannah’s mentor with WriterHouse

 Working with Hannah has shown me that writing can be fun, silly, and a great way to build friendships. She has shown me that I have made my writing life too serious! Hannah was excited to write about her early memories of being a writer in this blog post, so I followed her lead and explored this topic too. I am so pleased that her early writing life was influenced by a positive female teacher who instilled the value of creative expression. Her post made me want to immediately go back to third grade and write about Mrs. Bazarewsky!

Hannah writes:

Having a very wide imagination, I always loved to make up stories in my head when I was younger. Sometimes my friends and I would act them out, but usually they’d stay locked in my mind, their beginnings, endings and middles always twisting with my memory. In third grade, my amazing teacher, Ms. Brandt, had my class decorate compositions notebooks with felt and buttons during the first week of school. For the rest of the year, we would open them up daily and be given free time to write whatever we wanted. This was the first time I ever put one of my stories onto paper. As an avid reader, the idea of one day becoming a published author made me giddy. I desperately wanted to write a book that a younger me would’ve spent hours reading, and felt just a small amount of sadness after finishing. In third grade, most of my stories were inspired by things I had read. Mythology, Warriors, Harry Potter, and other various series I had eaten through like a bookworm. Of course my first compositions were far from perfect, but they were still stories that I was very proud of and held close to my heart. Over six years, my writing style has improved and become much less erratic (or so I hope), but it was during those fifteen minutes of each school day that I kindled my love of writing. Continue reading