Writing young

On April 10, a group of 12 girls gathered at Old Masonic Hall for a short story writing workshop led by local author Lindsay Eland. It was the first in a quarterly series geared toward 5th- to 8th-graders called Girls’ Writing Club, created by local parent Sonya Dalrymple as a way to develop her daughter Jaydn’s interest.

“She has always loved to tell stories,” said Dalyrmple, whose daughter already has a blog. After Jaydn fell in love with Eland’s middle grade fiction books—“Scones and Sensibility” (2009), “A Summer of Sundays” (2013), and “5 Times Revenge” (2016)—they invited Eland to lunch, and Dalyrmple later started hashing up plans to host a writing workshop with Eland.

Dalyrmple met Becca Spiro, director of learning and innovation for Breckenridge Creative Arts (BCA), while exploring the option to host it at Old Masonic Hall, the recently renovated multi-arts facility on Main Street Breckenridge. Spiro herself was trying to put together activities for teens and tweens, so it turned out to be a perfect fit.

At the first workshop, Eland taught the girls about character and plot development and read selections from “The Tale of Despereaux” and the Harry Potter series before they sat down to their own writing. “We were really blown away by their creativity, their language, and their sentence structure,” said Dalyrmple, who is now working with BCA and local authors to help the girls refine their written works and publish a collection.

“I feel like work should be meaningful,” Dalrymple said. “It’s always more impactful if there’s an audience, a reason for it. It validates the girls’ writing. It teaches them at an early age that it is possible to publish something and get it into the hands of many people, not just their teacher.”

“Middle school is kind of tricky,” she added, explaining her hunch that the girls might feel more comfortable in an all-girls environment. “We just wanted to give them freedom without any friction. The feeling in the room was really supportive and encouraging. There was no hesitation or censoring.”

The Girls’ Writing Club is open to all Summit County girls ages 11-14. The next workshop, on August 20, will be led by Kathleen Willard, a poet and printmaker who recently did a residency in the Breckenridge Arts District. Willard will take the girls to the Moonstone Trail to observe an environmental art installation, where they will write and talk about female authors inspired by nature. Parents should contact Breckenridge Creative Arts to sign up.

“It made me excited to have a parent who had this vision,” Spiro said. “It’s an example of the kind of community ownership that’s possible on the Arts District campus. I’d love to see more locals who have ideas like this come forward and work with me to make them happen.”

Girls’ Writing Club // breckcreate.org/teens-tweens // 970.453.3187 ext 7
Lindsay Eland // lindsayeland.com
Kathleen Willard // breckcreate.org/artists-in-residence/kathleen-willard