Students become novelists

Hannah Jane DeCiutiis

     Many students have read novels written by successful adult authors. There are whole sections in bookstores for teenagers, but those novels are not usually written by teenagers themselves. In the past several months, two Cedar Park High School students took the initiative to sit down and write their own novels.

     Margaret Olson, senior, and member of a national slam poetry team, says her inspiration to write a novel was from the people around her.

     “I went to nationals [with my slam poetry team] and I was surrounded by really great writing, and that prompted me to really get into writing a novel; I only had eleven pages at first. I think observing real life made me want to write it- taking instances and making them universal,” Olson said.

     Olson’s novel is called A Story With Five Parts; with one fictional story being told from each of five characters’ points of view. As expected, the most intimidating part about writing a novel is often the length of it, resulting in dedication and involvement from start to finish.

     “A book is different from an essay or poem, just because a novel is so long and intense, and you really can’t know what you’re going to write when you sit down. [The hardest part] was taking my thoughts and putting them into words,” Olson said.

     Coffee House is another resource that helped Olson stay motivated along the way. Coffee House creates a comfortable environment for artists to present their work, whether it be writing, art or music.

     “I read a chapter at the first coffee house and they wouldn’t let me stop! Just recently I read some more and Ms. Iskra told me that I had a following. Knowing people like your work is definitely motivation to keep writing,” Olson said.

     Margaret hopes to get her novel published before she graduates high school and offers advice to those who find the task too intimidating to complete or suffer from prevalent writer’s block.

     “When you feel like you’re stuck, walk away from it and come back. Let your book write you. If you’re on a roll, keep going and write it even if it’s different from what you originally planned. Read your book out loud and see how it sounds. If you can’t visualize it, there’s no point; it’s only words on a page,” Olson said.

     Holly Chisholm, junior, says her inspiration to write her novel (a fantasy plot set in the future) was from reading the works of others. She wrote her book over the summer and was backed by the support of others, which she appreciated greatly.

     “[I was inspired by] reading novels like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. I really like trying to think of what the world could have turned out to be. I just want to thank everyone for supporting me in my crazy attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 31 days; I had a blast doing this over the summer,” Chisholm said.

     For many teenagers, the daily distractions of social networking and television can take away from the productivity of work, particularly in summertime. This was no different for Chisholm, and she says it was one of her main deterrents in accomplishing her goal.

     “Forcing myself to sit down and write instead of going on Facebook [was really difficult],” Chisholm said.

     Though she says she still needs to edit her first draft, Chisholm also hopes to publish within the next year, and she too offers advice to those wanting also wanting to write:

     “Just sit down and start writing. You can plan all you want, but if you never finish what’s the point? It doesn’t even have to be good the first time around! Characters and plot work themselves out pretty much on their own,” Chisholm said.

     So whether high school students are  casual writers, diary addicts or aspire to become novelists, these students have set the bar high and proved that it is possible, and a very rewarding experience.