Talented teen artists and writers from around the country have the opportunity to participate in a nationwide contest, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Each year, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers partners with Scholastic in search of the best and most creative teen works. This scholarship contest has been held annually since 1923. It not only provides an avenue to help defray college costs, but also gives budding artists and writers the experience of having their work published and exhibited in a national forum.
I have a very special connection with the contest this year. My son Chad submitted a written piece. I am still amazed at his determination to hang in there throughout this process. Although his work did not qualify for national judging, he was recognized with the Silver Key award. I interviewed Chad with the hope of inspiring other young writers, as well as to applaud his efforts.
RS: How did you find out about the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards?
CS: I found out about the contest through Facebook. A promotional ad appeared on my page and I was curious. I clicked on a link that brought me to a page that had information regarding the contest.
RS: What prompted you to go through the application process? What was your motivation?
CS: As a writer, I felt like these awards would be a great way to break into the industry if I was able to do anything successful. I knew Scholastic was one of the biggest publishers in the world and if anyone could recognize talent, I would think it would be them. There was also the incentive of scholarship monies, which would help me with college.
RS: So what were the next steps in this process?
CS: I had to make a decision about which category I was going to enter. There were several categories within the two main topic areas: art or writing. I knew that I wanted to focus on writing. Fortunately, I was focused on what I wanted to do as soon as I considered entering. I was certain I would be entering in the science fiction & fantasy category and using an excerpt from my current project. If I hadn't known what I was going to do, I would have been a little daunted. There were many categories and subdivisions of writing that some may have had a hard time choosing.
RS: What was your story about?
CS: The piece was a part of a larger idea I was developing. Basically, Titania [a goddess] was betrayed by one of her servants/missionaries. In order for the dispute to be settled, she brought him to court to be judged, but it turns out she wasn't completely innocent either.
RS: How did you find the process of participating in a contest and what was your course of action?
CS: I really had to set deadlines for myself. There would be times when I would have writer’s block and get stuck. That, plus my acute "senioritis," was not a favorable combination. I was fortunate to have my AP teachers critique my work, and one of the teachers sponsored me. I found myself revising often, especially after I received feedback from my teachers. I am pretty sure that I was still in revision mode as I was preparing to submit my entry.
RS: How did you feel once the piece was completed?
CS: I was a little scared once I was finished. Someone was going to be judging my writing. I had to come to the decision that I was finished and to leave it alone. I felt that if I kept looking at it that I might mess it up. I wish that I could say that there was a sense of relief when I hit the submit button. There were some mixed emotions. I still wish I had an extra week to work out kinks I may have been blind to at that moment.
RS: What advice would you give to potential applicants for next year?
CS: I would say the most important thing is that you enjoy writing the piece. Enjoyment really comes across to the reader and it will encourage them to enjoy it as well. It will be extremely helpful to find a sponsor teacher once you make the decision to enter the contest. Your sponsor teacher becomes your partner during this process and must be available to review your work.