The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword
February 26, 2018
Students from San Dieguito Academy, Eastlake High School, Canyon Crest Academy, Torrey Pines High School, Mount Carmel High School – even the homeschooled. It was a melting pot of sleep-deprived eyes, insulated snow jackets, and foggy glasses on a freezing 46-degree morning. Or, for the photosynthetic Californians, more like a freezing negative 46 degrees.
Students chattered – in both manners of speaking – as they pooled into lopsided lines organized in “A-L” and “M-Z” at the Canyon Crest Academy Writer’s Conference Saturday. They walked away from the check-in tables with multicolored folders containing all the essentials for the day ahead: a spiral notebook, a blue pen, a map of the campus, and a description of each seminar.
A group or two hovered near what would later be the lunch table, but for the morning, only held lonely, plastic bottles of water. Nobody really wanted to be healthy when they had been promised pizza. Others congregated in the auditorium lobby in school-defined circles.
It was 8:30 a.m. Like clockwork, the crowd turned in unsettling unison towards the auditorium, prompted by nothing but their desire to warm up. And learn, of course.
This was CCA’s seventh annual Writer’s Conference, a six-hour long event in which various writers representing different genres presented seminars to groups of eager high schoolers.
They day began with speaker and author of “What Girls Are Made of,” Elana K. Arnold. Arnold dove headfirst into explicit tales of her difficult past. However, the grim and sympathetic faces of the audience slowly transformed into smiles as Arnold explained how she overcame her struggles by transforming her pain into the art of literature and inspiration for her books. A feat, Arnold said, that everyone has the power to emotionally and mentally empower themselves with.
Shortly after the clapping ended came the time for students to delve into the different seminars they signed up for prior to the event. There were a multitude of these workshops to attend, including LGBTQ fiction, narrative nonfiction, college essay writing, journalism, screenwriting for T.V., playwriting, songwriting, horror writing, and more.
One such seminar, “Songwriting: Rhyme, Reason, and the Infinite Paths,” led by published singer-songwriter Lee Coulter, delved into the essentials of writing lyrics. Coulter advised the students to write from the heart, find a pattern or rhythm their comfortable with, and don’t let fear get in the way; take a chance.
If author Jonathan Maberry had anything to offer about horror writing, it was that the writing was more than ghosts and gory deaths. He broke the umbrella genre into two other subsections: thriller and suspense. Thriller is working towards a goal constantly impeded by obstacles, and suspense in character-driven, Maberry explained.
Although the high schoolers joked that they were only there for the free snacks when lunchtime came around, their love for literature and creativity was the driving force in bringing these young writers together. Around every corner was at least one fresh face ecstatic to be absorbing knowledge from professionals, any signs of morning weariness swallowed by smiles.
SDA freshman Piper Bailey felt the same way. “I’ve always been interested in writing stories and writing poetry,” Bailey said. “It was a great, and free, way to learn more about it.”
Not only does the Writer’s Conference provide an intellectual boost, but it’s also applicable to the future. “I now know a lot about writing and how it impacts everyday lives,” Bailey said. “The classes I went to…were very helpful for applying for jobs that involve writing.”