I still remember the moment. Aug. 22, 2006. I was standing in an elevator staring at the buttons. I was standing in an elevator at what was to be my new place of work -- a nondescript, office-park type building -- staring at unfamiliar elevator buttons trying to remember what floor my shared office was at. But mostly I was just staring, wondering, frozen, feeling a wave of doubt come over me -- a deceptive moment of clarity: What have you gotten yourself into this time? Are you crazy?
I pressed 3. The elevator doors shut. The elevator shook and then began moving up. Verrrryyy slowly. The doubts persisted: You left 33 years of journalism to come work here? To start a nonprofit? That tries to help kids write better? How is this going to work? What were you thinking?
The door opened on the third floor ...
And here we are 10 years later.
By our own conservative estimates, YWP has watched you -- 36,000 of you who've joined this site over the last decade -- post over 330,000 poems and stories and rants and reveals and comments in this community. The amazing thing? ALL of those posts have been respectful, or supportive. And all have represented your having taken a risk.
My parents named me Greta. Close enough to Gretel, fabled sister of Hansel and unfortunate daughter of the woodcutter, that perhaps getting lost is in my name. It has certainly always been in my nature. Out of my entire family, I am the only one with absolutely no sense of direction. I cannot navigate, take directions, or really even get from Point A to Point B on my own, at least not efficiently. I'll probably get to my destination eventually, but in my own roundabout fashion. A popular dinnertime story is of the time when my parents trusted me to walk on my own from one friend's house to another, both of them in the same neighborhood where I had lived for nearly a year. I walked in a U-shape: a couple blocks down to my house, then back up to my destination. It wasn't until I got there, fifteen minutes late, that I realized that both friends lived on the same street, with a straight path between their houses only a block long. Still, I can't remember a time over the past 15 and a half years when I have gotten truly, hopelessly lost. The closest I ever came was a series of grocery store moments, in which my parents ask me to pick something up from the opposite end of the store, and then I wander the isles in order to find their cart again amidst the stacks of dog food and dairy. The incidents have all been quick and uneventful, and are usually resolved after five minutes with a sighting of my mom's green raincoat or my dad's signature hat. Yet even in those five-minute periods, I touched every time upon the panic of being lost and alone, and the fear of never being found.
My hands tingled in anticipation as I turned the thin, smooth sheets of newspaper. I searched, my eyes going forth from page to page, looking for my creation. My heart jumped when I finally found it.
There, in black and white. In real, printed words, confirming that it was good enough to be seen by more people than just me. I covered my hand over my smile, as my family took their turns looking, oohing and ahhing.
I have always been a writer, it's in my bones. Words are what make me who I am. But as I saw my words in print, I realized how true that was today.
Each month, and with YWP community members' help, YWP assembles the very best writing, images, audio and video for display in The Voice, our monthly digital magazine. This magazine celebrates the very best that this community produces. If you would like to help out on this project, please contact Susan Reid, Publications Coordinator and editor of the magazine. Please help build the audience for this magazine, by posting a link on your social media channels or on other Web communities. Thanks!
OK, I have no pride. I've gone from a kitty to a baby. Just to get your attention.
But now that I have it...
We recently updated the MAIL system AND the notifications when you receive a comment. WOW! The impact has been amazing. Doug DeMaio of YWP says the increse in commenting has been fantastic! So glad.
ALSO, we have just created a NEW notification: You can OPT to receive an email if a post you commented upon is revised. This is handy to see the impact of your feedback AND to see how others are progressing on work you connected with! (TO RECEIVE THESE EMAILS, go to your profile, and click the EDIT tab, scroll down near the bottom -- above the legal-beagle agreement -- and check the box beside the words "Update Notify.")
THE YWP DIGITAL LEARNING CENTER -- A place you can mess around and learn some stuff. We soon will accept applications for a small group of you to try out the PLAYLISTS we are creating. These will have fun, quick, powerful exercises to help you build skills or finish homework or dig deeper on interesting topics or all three.
A HELP Center with easy-to-follow guides on how to do things on the site and how to wander around the site.
HIGHLIGHTS of work done so far this summer:
ADD MEDIA option on your blog now allows you to: upload multiple images (choose "Advanced upload", drag and drop as many as you'd like and they automatically become a slideshow); upload or record audio (under audio, click browse and RECORDER tab to record from your desktop/laptop (requires the dreaded Flash for the moment); embed video or audio; or upload video.
NEW COMMENTS: they refresh right away!
And, of course, a new look and a lot of behind the scenes stuff.
Young Writers Project depends on your generosity to provide programs to thousands of youths. YWP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit so all donations are tax deductible. Donate what you can —$25, $50, $100, or more — to help us provide this creative, respectful space for youths from all over and to mentor them and publish their best work for free.
Credit card donations may be made securely through JustGive.org:
Check donations may be sent to: Young Writers Project 47 Maple Street # 106 Burlington VT 05401Thanks so much.