Corvallis’ public library already offers a lot to teens—books, graphic novels, CDs, and movies—but not everyone knows that in addition to all those creative materials, the library also provides an opportunity for local kids who love reading and writing to build their skills in a group setting.
Writerly youth of Corvallis should consider visiting the library’s Teen Writers Group. This organization—founded and led by local YA author Bryan Bliss—meets every Tuesday evening, 6 to 7 p.m., in the Youth Activity Room of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.
Covering a broad spectrum of topics, the group learns not only the craft of writing, with a focus on creative fiction, but also the ins-and-outs of breaking into the industry. About once per month, the meetings are devoted to Skype Q&As with successful industry insiders (past meetings have been with a major publishing house editor and a National Book Award finalist), who offer the kind of insight that can only come with experience.
The rest of the time, meetings may be devoted to identifying characters, developing story concepts, or other topics that build writing skills. For National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, the group is prepping for a potentially exhausting month of writing by brainstorming novel ideas. Last year, several of the writers participated in NaNoWriMo and produced complete novels.
Bliss founded the group over two years ago to provide teens with a supportive atmosphere in which to discuss books and writing. He’s enthusiastic about using his connections to introduce young writers (and non-writing book lovers) to the real-life aspects of the book industry. The meetings with industry professionals offer rare guidance in an industry known for its caginess.
Most of all, the group hopes to teach its members that with hard work, practice, and skill-building, writing professionally is an attainable dream.
By Mica Habarad