by Noelle C., age 18
Back in December of 2014, I was at The Grove with a good friend of mine. While we were at Barnes & Noble talking about our shared love of notebooks (and how our parents could never understand why we needed so many), my friend started to tell me about a program called WriteGirl. But with the holidays and all of the craziness that comes with the end of the year, I put WriteGirl out of my head for the time being.
So when January came around and my friend posted about going to a WriteGirl workshop, I knew it was a sign that I had to get involved. As I was signing up for WriteGirl, it seemed like this would be a great way to find inspiration—and hopefully meet some girls my age who are into writing. There was something about this program that seemed worth a shot.
Now, for those of you who have never heard of WriteGirl . . . it’s a free mentor program for high school girls in Los Angeles, California. Each month, they hold workshops or events for the girls to work on or showcase their writing. There’s also the option to have a weekly mentor.
They offer the most amazing help with college, as well. They’ll give you all the support to get you into the college of your dreams and get you all the financial help possible. I love this college support for a few reasons. First, we need all the help we can get with college, and second, the WriteGirl team might offer a point of view or options that our schools or families might not have thought of. Everything I have just listed above is the barebones of what WriteGirl does. I could go on and on about program. Since my first workshop in February of 2015, I’ve never felt better as a writer or more empowered in my own voice.
As of writing this post, I’ve been to three WriteGirl events—two workshops and one reading. The photo on this post is from the reading at the amazing Skylight books.
This was my first time reading my writing in front of strangers. I thought I might get nervous when it came time for me to read, but I never even felt nervous. Sitting in the front row was my mom—and by chance, right next to her was my mentor, Andrea. Looking at their faces as I read made me feel strong. I felt an overwhelming sense of joy. So much so that I even messed up my poem, which led to my mom making a horrified face. But I recovered quickly and went on. Afterward, talking with the other girls who read, I said that I had messed up. Right away, everyone said that it was no big deal—that no one knew. They all were so kind and friendly, offering words of support. If one of the girls looked nervous or upset, we would all jump in to offer support, thumbs-up, or smiles—anything we could do to make her feel her best.
For a group teenage girls, that’s pretty amazing. It would be so easy for drama to go down—for the girls to compete against one another. But at WriteGirl, there’s nothing but support. No one is trying to outdo anyone else. There’s no fighting to read or have the last word, to be the best writer.
Everyone just does their best.
If I had to pick one word to describe the WriteGirl program, I would say, supportive.
There’s never an unkind word spoken. No drama or conflict. Every bit of feedback your work receives is said with love. Some teachers or writers might say that this gives the girls a false sense of talent or a big ego. Those people couldn’t be further from the truth. The endless support and freedom that is given to us girls is amazing. Whenever I hear the other girls read, I’m in awe. Their talent and gifts are incredible. From workshop to workshop, I see my fellow mentees grow both as writers and as humans. The longer we’re in the program, the more content we become. Even when two girls have to share a mentor, there’s no trying to outdo the other girl . . . which brings me to my praise of the mentors.
These women are beyond amazing. Being a teenager, I can say that adults can suck at times. They treat us like we’re less than them, that we’re too young to understand the world. Adults talk down to us. They see teenagers either as weird half-children or wild reckless beasts.
These amazing women give us their time, doing everything in their power to make sure we want for nothing. They give us their ears. As teenagers, we’re often given too little time. And what time we are given is always overshadowed by people thinking they know more—people acting like they know more about our feelings, thoughts, or opinions. We’re treated like whatever we’re going through in life is less than what adults are going through.
WriteGirl wants us to dive deep into our experiences, to find our voice instead of writing through a fictional story about a rock, or interviewing our grandma, or the 1950s. WriteGirl allows our voices to be heard.