The 15th Anniversary Season End Celebration of WriteGirl happened to be the second season event I went to and the ending of my first full season—a season filled with friends, writing prompts, and the thrill of having my first mentor. It went quite smoothly, the food great and the speakers excellent. Especially Felicia Day, who to me was the highlight of the guest speakers, mingling and talking with us during the breaks and lunch; she was incredibly nice and charming.
The thing that nobody tells you before performances is that on stage, you can hardly see anyone. The lights are just that blinding. The age-old advice of imagining your audience make-up becomes moot, because the audience is simply a sea of blackness that murmurs in response to your piece. Your hands start to sweat, and you wonder if you’re one of the people who stands too close to the mic and every “p” is deafening from the pop of your lips. Or perhaps you’re standing too far away from the mic, and every word of your piece labored over is, in fact, laborious to hear. You might be moving back and forth awkwardly in a way that distracts the audience, or—the worst—your voice could crack, a harsh slide from one octave to another.
But the thing they do tell you—something that Keren Taylor especially emphasized—is that the audience isn’t a panel of judges waiting for your mistakes but rather a pool of people who are on your side. They all wish for the speakers to do their best, because they recognize that WriteGirl teens are just that: teenagers, some who are seasoned public speakers and others frazzled with anxiety over the thought of performing in front of people.
It’s a strange feeling, being simultaneously twisted with nerves but also calmed knowing that these people think the best of you no matter what. It makes baring your soul through words easier to bear, makes the stage lights a little dimmer and you a little brighter. But becoming comfortable in your own skin, becoming empowered through written word, is what WriteGirl is really about, and the Season End Celebration did exactly that.
Also, the cupcakes were fantastic, though I heard rumors that there was a Hostess one filled with cream that I didn’t have a chance to sample. Still, delicious.
Last month during a warm Saturday afternoon, photos of smiling women and girls flashed across the large movie screen inside the Writers Guild Theater. These countless memories provided an emotional backdrop to help commemorate the 15th season of WriteGirl. The Mariachi Divas continued the celebration with a special performance, and most importantly for me, I got to see my mentee read a personal piece on stage. Our first full season together as mentor/mentee at WriteGirl also happened to fall on this huge milestone for the organization.
Our weekly meetings filled with writing exercises, monthly writing workshops, and two full journals was only a drop in the bucket compared to all that WriteGirl has accomplished in the last fifteen years. Looking around at an audience filled with parents and friends waiting to hear the performances from the girls, it was hard not to be impressed with all that WriteGirl has achieved and inspired with these girls.
They made sure everyone got a turn at the mic and had the chance to give advice, read a poem, or share a short story. It was inspiring, not only as a listener but also as a witness of the transformation the girls have made from the beginning of the season to now. They were able to stand proudly on that stage and share a reading in front of an audience. Not an easy task. But they still managed to do it and give us a piece of who they are—as individuals and as a part of WriteGirl. One major thread among the pieces read was to not be afraid of who you are and what you have to say. And to always say it loud and proud.
Looking up at the brave girls up on the stage, I was reminded of how nervous I was signing up as a mentor at the beginning of the season last year. But those fears quickly melted away the first time I stepped foot in that first workshop. And then I thought about how much I would have missed out on if I had let the opportunity pass me by. Fear is something everyone has to overcome—girls and women alike. There are many stages and many opportunities, and we should never be afraid of stepping up and grabbing our turn at the microphone. Thankfully, WriteGirl has already been spreading this message for the past fifteen years.
And that Hostess cupcake with the cream filling was not a rumor. It was very real and very, very delicious.