Every second week in July, UMF staff and students work practically twenty-four hours a day to run a writing camp and workshop for high school students. Longfellow Young Writers’ Workshop is for high school students from all corners of the country to come to Maine to spend a week writing with a group of teens who also love to write.
As a UMF student, I was employed to be both a teacher’s assistant and a resident assistant. This means I sat in on every fiction class to help the professor with whatever he needed and that I spent every night of the week sleeping in a dorm as a chaperone to the students.
The dorm sleeping not the most enjoyable of experiences, but I loved each day as a TA. It was an experience that was completely new to me and I was nervous about that. I felt like I didn’t know enough to be put on a similar level of a professor. I quickly learned that it wasn’t an issue. I knew enough. In fact, there wasn’t much that the professor had said that I hadn’t heard before and that relaxed my nerves. Surprisingly, I even had valuable input.
The best part about class, however, was getting to see all these young writers talk about themselves and their writing. They were all so happy to be there and it was a period of time for them to be able to focus on just writing and nothing else. For me, this was the most fascinating part. It was so easy to just sit back and listen to them talk; “it has to be 500 words or less?! How can anybody write anything less than 500 words? That’s crazy!” “Exactly how long can my ‘one sentence’ be? Because one sentence is just not enough.” As a college student, I found this one particularly funny: “How are we supposed to write two thousand words in two days?!”
Their conversations were so crazy to listen to because it was so hard for me to remember that five years ago I was just sixteen and wide-eyed. I was fascinated by writing and so in love with it and I would have given anything to go to writing camp if only just meet other writers.
When asked by the fiction professor why they came to writing camp a great majority answered, “to make my writing better,” which made us smile. No matter how old I get or how long I spend writing or how many classes I take or even how many books I write, I will always be looking to make my writing better. The professor pointed out that he can’t read his own books because when he does, he notices all the flaws or places where he could have made something stronger or “better”. There is always room for improvement and there is always something to be made “better” and there is always a time where I will be working towards making my writing better.