Michiana Writers’ Center, a local community organization, to host its annual conference Get Inked Teen Writing Conference Saturday. The annual conference, which is usually held in person at Saint Mary’s College, will be held online for the second time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference is open to students in Grades 7-12 and will feature small group writing sessions, keynote speakers, and four Young Adult (YA) authors.
Kathy Higgs, Education Professor and Founder of Get Inked, discussed the pros and cons of hosting Get Inked online.
“This [has] been in person every year, but last year and this year, and [the] going online has been both a blessing and a loss, ”Higgs said. “Thanks to its posting, there are fewer students in the region, but we have a national and international reach. “
Get Inked is meant to be an inclusive and safe space for teens to work on their writing with like-minded peers and published authors, Higgs said. She said she started the conference when she arrived at Saint Mary’s because she wanted to give young writers more resources than she had growing up.
“When I was a teenage writer, there weren’t any opportunities like this,” Higgs said. “You know, there are things for students who are in groups, in theater or in sports,… but there is really nothing for young writers. I really wanted it to be who the teens attending it wanted to be. ”
Regarding the planning process, Higgs acknowledged the support of campus and community events staff, such as Deputy Director of External Events and Community Relations Gabriella Maxwell and Director Richard Baxter.
“I think we have been blessed because we have Gabriella Maxwell at Saint Mary’s, and she really understands how to run events on Zoom, ”Higgs said. “So last year she sat down with me and really supported me through this process, and without her and Richard Baxter helping us move to Zoom last year, we never would have was able to accommodate it last year. “
Higgs said she was excited to reach a wider audience by going virtual again this year, noting that it’s one of the opportunities hosting the in-person event doesn’t provide.
“It’s been a blessing in some ways to have it online because our capabilities are greater,” Higgs said.
However, she said a big setback to moving to a virtual conference is the lack of networking and community building.
“At the end of the day, I always ask, ‘What do you want us to change? What do you want to do differently? ‘ And they always want more, ”Higgs said. “At the end of the day, when we’re on campus, they don’t really want to leave. They want to stay there and talk to other writers their age.
Higgs emphasized the importance of finding community as a young writer and seizing opportunities like Get Inked.
“Writing is such a lonely thing,” Higgs said. “It’s nice to have a community, a group of people like us, people who are… interested in the same thing. “
Another benefit of moving to Virtual Higgs mentioned is access to authors and potential guest and keynote speakers.
“The other thing about being online that’s been a blessing is [last year] We were able to [bring] Chris Crutcher who is a rockstar writer, ”Higgs said. “He donated his time and we never could have had him, but because it was COVID he donated his time and we were also able to get other award-winning authors last year where in the past we had only had one per year.
Higgs expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to bring in more writers this year.
“So we stick to that [virtual] again this year and we have four authors again, which is just amazing, ”Higgs said. “If we had to pay to transport all of these people here and house them, that wouldn’t be possible, so that’s the blessing of it online. “
The conference will begin with a writers’ marathon, which Higgs describes as “an opportunity for teenage writers and adult writers to come together in a community of writers.”
“Everyone writes to [a] request for a defined period of time, ”she said. “So it’s very short, like 3 minutes. Everyone writes about it. And then we draw another prompt.
Higgs describes the start of the conference as a warm-up. After this section there will be a variety of breakout sessions, workshops and two main presentations.
The fall semester was a busy time for Higgs, but she said the work she and other faculty, staff and students put into the conference was well worth it.
“[It’s] something so moving because I feel like – what’s the only thing I do that I can see the impact immediately? The students just need it, ”Higgs said. “They just need to be in a room with other writers and they need the opportunity to be taken seriously as a writer.”
While there is a $ 70 registration fee, Higgs notes that for a writing conference, this fee is relatively low, and there are many options to help attendees who may need help. aid.
“So my goal with that was to keep [the cost] as low as possible, but still able to bring the author in and be able to support the [conference]”Higgs said.
Higgs shared his enthusiasm for the opportunity to support young writers.
“This year we have someone in New Zealand attending, which means for her the conference will start… I think midnight, so she will be up all night for the conference,” Higgs said.
“I would say it’s totally worth it because of the motivation, the students stay up all night writing,” she added. “You know, these are the kinds of people you want to make sure you support. “
Those interested in registering for the conference can still do so by registering for the College’s academic and community events. website.