I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a young, aspiring, teen author. Now if you would have asked me if I liked writing five years ago… Well let’s just leave it at I would have thought you were crazy. Then my mom and I were at a homeschool conference picking out curriculum for my freshman year. One of the booths caught my eye. One Year Adventure Novel. That’s when it all started. Long story short, I conned my mom and dad into buying this writing curriculum for me. My parents still don’t know what came over me that day. I hated writing and I was asking for them to buy a writing curriculum?! What was up with that?

Well, now I’m so glad that I did. It’s been the biggest thing in my life since then. Hey. I can make up people in my head without my friends calling me crazy! And you should see my search history…

But that’s not why I fell in love with writing. (Okay, so I do like making up characters in my head…. But that’s beside the point. xP) I fell in love with the fact that I could create something from my imagination. I’ve always been one of those people that loves art projects and making things from what you have around the house. Writing didn’t require anything besides a paper and a pencil, or a blank document on Microsoft Word. 

The OYAN curriculum came with access to a forum, too. At first I didn’t understand it; I’ll admit. I thought these people were insane. They put their imaginary characters into what they called lounges and made them talk. Weird. I didn’t get on the forum much until a few months later. I tried one of the lounges and found them to be pretty helpful. Yeah, they’re fun too. 

Being the introvert that I am, I didn’t talk much with the other people on there. I just let my characters talk to their characters. I didn’t want to start a conversation with other people. Well, that changed. I started a lounge with another girl. She lived halfway across the U.S. Slowly, we talked more and more. Then I started staying up late just to talk to this person who was a lot like me. Not too long after that I started lounges with some other people. Again, I couldn’t help myself from staying up to talk to these people. They were awesome!

I struggled with planning out my first book, but I wrote a short story that I loved (and still love to this day). The more I talked to those people, though, the more I liked writing and working on my book.

I started attending the crazy webinars with the teachers (I hate missing them if I have stuff on those nights) where I could chat with my friends. (Of course, we always talked about what the teacher was talking about.) The people on the forum, internet avatars and authors of the characters I loved, became friends and forum siblings. 

Then came the Summer Workshop. In 2011, I went to my first one. I actually met the people I knew online! They were real! There were also speakers there that taught me so much more about writing. There were critique groups, too. Intimidating, but oh so helpful. It was wonderful and amazing.

Since then I’ve attended the Summer Workshop last year and the one a couple of weeks ago. Again, I got to meet and hangout with people like me. People that are my family. I also learned so much as to fill a notebook with notes each year.

To sum up, OYAN and the Summer Workshops are such a big part of my life and I can’t imagine life without it. The people and characters I’ve met, along with the stories I’ve read, are so amazing. I’ve grown as a writer through my short stories, songs, poems, and stories. I’ve finished my first rough draft and am editing it at the moment. OYAN has taught me so much.