Jan 13

Where are you from?

I was either five or six years old when I came up with a simple answer to a question our family often faced which always seemed to require long explanations. We were in Kampala, Uganda, where we lived until I was seven, walking to get ice creams when a woman we didn’t know stopped us to ask where we were from.

My parents knew she wasn’t asking which area of the city we lived in, so they launched into their usual complicated explanation, mentioning that my father was born in Tanzania but grew up in the United Kingdom; that my mother, who was born in the United States, was Irish by family background; that I was born in the Rakai district of Uganda, and my older sister in North Carolina.

It is tempting now to give myself a more interesting motive, but I am pretty sure I was just trying to get us to the ice cream stand faster when I cut the conversation short, jumping in and blurting out, “But actually, we’re from Hong Kong.”
Jun 03
The Soccer Bee 48's picture


            I am hungry for knowledge. I alway want to learn. The only downfall is I want knowledge on thing I want to learn about. So if you tell me to learn about some I don’t want to learn about I am going to Half ass it. But when I learn some thing about a thing I like to learn about. Then I will keep digging for more knowledge.
           For example in first through third grade I was obsessed with anacondas which are a kind of snake. I kept learning. I was a computer of knowledge on anacondas. Now I am thirsty for understanding of World War two. From memwoirs to historical fiction I am continuing to read and inform myself on this horrific topic.
             I can’t compare to my hunger for knowledge to anything else.

Oct 18
joseph.deffner's picture

A Quiet Winter Day

The snow crunches softly beneath my boots as I trudge up the hill. Small delicate snowflakes land on my fuzzy hat. I tilt my head back to catch them in my mouth. Out of the corner of my eye, a male cardinal dashes from tree to tree, his red feathers bright against the white snow. When I get to the top of the hill, I pause to look around at the snow covered trees, and listen to how peaceful it is. Dropping my sled on the wet snow, I climb on and slide down the hill, going down easily on top of the smooth and icy snow. The cool wind blowing in my face, smiling to myself. Winter makes me feel serene and content.
Jun 28

Lights Out

On June 27, after a heart-warming dinner with the Young Writers Project board (thank you Kathy), after hearing (thank you Susan) the startlingly kind words sent to me from many of you and your predecessors on how much this little project and community has meant, does mean, to you, I shut off the office lights for the last time after 12 years as YWP's executive director.

To you and the 110,000 kids we have touched in that time, thank you for opening your souls; thank you for sharing your ideas and observations, your flights of fancy and moments of bewilderment. Thank you for taking such creative risk.

You have enriched my life. You've opened my eyes to what you see and feel and experience and think and believe. And you have enriched the lives of thousands upon thousands of others -- your readers.
Jan 18

My Forever Tree

A dogwood tree grows in my front garden. It is small, somewhat peaked, somewhat scrawny. It's imperfect. That tree has watched me grow up. It watched me grow from when I was nine months old and first moved into that gray house (not the kind of gray that makes you think of dystopian forests of burned out, ash-filled air, but the kind of neutral, welcoming gray on which to paint the artwork of your life). The tree was short and delicate like the body of a baby held in her mother’s arms. It was fragile for a tree, which are usually bastions of strength. This one was small and the New England snow bowed its boughs, yet it kept standing.
Jan 17


I want to build you a castle, even though I can barely use a screw driver.
I want to write you a song, one that would make you think of me on a whole new level,
One you could listen to when we're apart.
I want to give you the world, even though it's not mine to give.
I want to do this because I just realized just how much I love you.
Yes, I said it, and it's true.
The only reason I haven't said it is because I want to tell you to your face, not through some screen a million minutes away from me.
You've gone and consumed my mind, and every time I think, you're right there.
I want to make you the happiest person in the world, regardless of whether or not I'm broken.
You deserve so much and I wish you knew just how special you are.
You compare yourself to a pebble, a rock, a stone.
But you are nothing like that. 
You are something beautiful, alive, and in love,
And someday maybe you'll know that.
Jan 16
Peter Gustafson's picture

Covid 19 revelation

    I am going to be talking about COVID-19. COVID-19 is a virus that has been spreaded all over the world. The virus started in March and till this day it is still going on all over the world. Through the pandemic we all had to take certain steps to control the virus. Such as, wearing mask, always washing your hands/using hand sanitizer, quarantine, online school, online sports/zooms, going for a drive through to say happy birthday, no going out to eat, no seeing friends or family, no taking a step out of your state or else you have to quarantine, and lastly staying 6 feet away from people. For the first time, I was beginning to understand what life is all about, life is about spending quality time with your family. It is nice to go for walks and play games with your family. In fact, quarantine brought our family even closer. In conclusion, this is what happened during COVID-19.

The Humble Beech

I look outside my window and I see a collection of trees; no not trees, a collection of memories. I see everything I love and everything I ever want to be. Sure, they’re just trees to some, but to me, they are like family. They bring back the feeling of summer, the crisp air of autumn, the excitement of the first snowfall, and the fresh reminders of spring. Trees grow with you, they sway as you do. They hold all my secrets and wishes, my hopes and my dreams. They remind me of home. The tree that is my deepest secret keeper and dearest friend is the leafy beech. This tree grew up with me, we grew up together. My dad planted it before I was born and as I grew, so did it. It’s the memories of building forts under its coveted shade with my sister and the laughs that are carried away by the wind. It’s feeling the branches creak as I climb to the sky with my soccer cleats still on after practice. The beech tree is the pretty one.


My brother and I went to play on our tablets in the white playroom. I finished building my house on Minecraft. I saw something on the bottom left corner and it said, “Braydon joined.” I wanted to show off my building to him. In the game he walked over  to me. We looked around the house together. It was two blocks high with a sky light. He said it was normal and that people had done that before.I went mining for a bit. I came back and I saw him placing TNT in my house. He used the flint and steel to blow it up. It was gone with just a big crater in the blocky ground!

 I got up from sitting in the playroom and I grabbed my iPad and smashed it on his knee. (He was wearing long pants and it was covering his knee.)  I noticed what I had done. I grabbed my broken  iPad and hid it under the table. I have anger issues and I feel bad that I did that to him.
Jan 14
mm2005's picture

Trash to Some is Treasure to Many

We’ve all heard the classic saying “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” but what makes something trash or treasure? What makes someone categorize it as trash? Is it because it's “useless” or maybe it’s because it's worn out? Does it not fit anymore or because the newness wore off? It’s not your style or it was a bad gift. It’s old and worn and a different color than it was when it was new. Spring cleaning is here, it's been collecting dust and it's time for a refresh. 
What about treasure? Maybe because it's shiny or the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? It’s something new to you. It’s a perfect fit or the best color? It may look loved or fresh out of the box, a new adventure. 
Jan 14
Peter Gustafson's picture


YWP Contest #3 General
Jan 13


I have been through a lot

I have manys scars

Both physical scar

And scars that are from my past

Lots of my memories have scars

So it’s hard for me to think about the good things from my past

I don’t tell many people about my scars

It’s more like they found out

It’s like I keep things from others

I also hope that things will get better

But looking back in the past

Looking back at those scars

I know they won’t

So now I just got to try

And never give up

Even if my scars are holding me back...

Jan 13

Line Break: The YWP Podcast

Hi, I'm Iris! (eyesofIris here on YWP.) Take a pause and listen to Line Break!
Jan 13
IceGalaxy's picture


Six hours and 31 minutes away from where I live is the Virginia Creeper Trail. A couple miles into the trail from the Tenessee side, there is a tree with a house built on it. A treehouse.
My grandmother owns the treehouse, and the surrounding land off the trail. 
This year, because of the pandemic that we all know too well for our tastes, I went to the treehouse at least three times this past summer. I tell my mother I never want to go each time, but in reality, the treehouse is sort of my home away from home. I love waking up early in the morning to see colors blend on the horizon like an artist's painting; love the dew that gently outlines the fragile spiderwebs strung from tall stalks of grass; love the deer that frolic in the fields and perk their heads up at the slightest sound. 
Jan 11
Starr08's picture

Symptoms of Trouble

Trouble clings to your souls, squeezing your hearts, collapsing your insides. Butterflies without happiness. The inevitable ‘Talking To’ physically making you incapable of movement and joy. Oh god, trouble weighs on your shoulders pushing you down like a giant (invisible) paperweight. And then somebody lets what you did slip, of course. You try not to yell, your hands in fists, nails digging into palms. Blood in your mouth from biting your tongue; a clamp on all of the words you wish you could hurl at them like metaphorical knives. A deep breath, yes, all you need. But of course, it isn’t what you need because a deep breath doesn’t reverse time, letting you do the right thing. Ugh, the right thing. Why couldn’t you have just done that instead? 
Jan 11

Lyceum Address

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic giant to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never.
All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth in their military chest could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.

As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838 

Jan 10
kjohnson142023's picture


During the last two days, I was making a slideshow of pictures for my dad’s birthday present.  It was about six minutes long and had music in the background.  I have a very large family, so we are never all together or in the same place.  Even when we are all in the same place, we talk together in small groups.  Before yesterday, I did not feel the feeling of having a whole family.  However, when I saw the slideshow of all of my family members, they were all in the same place, sort of, and it felt like our family was whole, and that they all knew and liked each other.  “ For the first time, I was beginning to understand what life is all about.”

The Grandfather Beech Tree

It's arms encircle me. The same arms that my mother, my uncle, my aunt; the same arms that embraced them. They climbed the tree, knew it's roots, traced the leaves, years before me. Now, I hide behind it's frail limbs, duck into the burrow that it created. The Grandfather Beech tree.  That was the name it had. The tree let it's roots run wild, imprinting into the ground, and resurfacing and creating another tree, only feet away.  Biking to the tree, and playing house, hide and seek, or maybe we were pirates in search of loot. The branchs hung and swirled around the blocked Wishing well, overgrown by vines. It had became forgotten. The tree remembered it. 
Jan 10
Peter Gustafson's picture

Little ideas

Little ideas.
When I draw, I draw ideas that pop into my head.
Little ideas.
They become pictures.
These little ideas become big things.
Calvin and Hobbes started out as a little idea.
Now, it’s one of the most popular comic strips ever.
Skateboarding began as a little idea.
And now it’s an Olympic sport.
Heck, even energy was once a little idea.
Then Edison invented the lightbulb.
Every manmade item on Earth started out as a little idea.
Scientific theories were once little ideas.
Like, ‘Maybe the Earth is round.’
Or ‘Maybe we revolve around the sun not vice versa.’.
Or ‘The Earth is heating up. Maybe it's because of the gas we’re putting into the atmosphere.'
Most big things start out as little ideas.
- Written by Liam Wood
Jan 10
Peter Gustafson's picture


Something I will never get about life is why everything can be so boring and then the next second so lively and exciting!

You never know what happens next. You could have the most wonderful thing happen, or the complete opposite.

People always say “Lifes full of mysteries” but is it really mysteries, or is it all just a leap of faith? You can think you have your whole life planned out, when actually, you have no idea what’s next. It seems like just yesterday I was six and playing with my friends. Years passed and I am suddenly in a measure of time where everything seems stuck.