I am consistently surprised by the creativity and ability that these kids are showing at such a young age. They’re all so different, and I never know what to expect during Open Mic because of the endless possibilities that are circulating through these kids’ minds. Being a writer myself, I like to think that I have things figured out, as far as craft is concerned, but some of the things these kids do, almost automatically, makes me feel like I need to reassess my own work ethic and practices. One of the students that I work with draws all of her characters before putting down even one word on the page. She gets an idea of the story from the look and design of these characters; relationships grow from these images, ideas for conflict. I can’t draw for the life of me, and I am super impressed to see these two creative forces combine and turn into something greater.

Another student, writing a script, has such a knack for efficiency in her writing. Her pages are filled with conflict after conflict, and every bit of dialogue is an argument. It’s great. She says that every time she finishes writing a scene, she has her friends read it out loud and revises it from there, to cut clutter and make the dialogue more natural. And it works. This is one of those techniques that I’ve heard from everyone who teaches or works in screenwriting, but haven’t gone through the trouble of doing yet myself. It’s inspiring to see someone so young just do these things, with no other motivation than it’s what she wants to do.

Some days the students want to work less than they do other days, and sometimes they don’t want to write at all. But even these students show creativity through other means; they want to sing, to dance, to rap, to practice violin. It’s an often daunting and hectic setting to be in, but all of these kids want to express themselves so much, be it in writing or through other means. It’s really an incredible thing to be in.

Wojtek Czyz is a senior English major.