When I partnered with St. Mary's Library to host Drafting Disaster: A Teen Writing Workshop. hold a writing workshop, I had no idea what turnout I would see. I was warned that it is difficult to attract teenagers to library events. To my surprise, students from around the area came. Like me, they wanted a space and a community to write.
But I didn't just rent out a room at the library and tell participants to get to it. The reading and writing of literature fuel one another. Reading inspires people to write and writing inspires people to read. I had participants read Megan Ross Rodriguez’ short story “Counting.” After the group discussed the piece, the elements they enjoy, the effectivity of the piece, students were reading to write. Rather than restricting participants to a genre or subject matter, my prompt asked that participants:
"Write a short story, poem, essay, memoir of the same ilk as the story you read. It could be a nod to its style or subject matter. Write about whatever this piece inspired in you."
Having never run a workshop beyond my work in Leonardtown High School's creative writing club, I was unsure what response my plans would receive. I was shocked to say the least. I saw participants exchanging phone numbers and email addresses with one another. I saw participants providing constructive criticism and getting energized about improving their work with the suggestions of fellow writers. More concretely, the library had participants rate the success of their experience.