This post was written by Mentee Briana Marini
It’s hard to say that everything in a year long program comes down to one moment, but it kind of does: CHAPTERS. From the beginning at Girls Write Now, we’re told about the reading when we’ll get to stand on stage at Scholastic in Manhattan and share something that we’ve worked on for what seems like ages. For some it induces overwhelming nerves, for others there’s excitement and adrenaline running through their veins just hearing about it, and then there are those that experience both. From the first workshop to the point where we’re sitting in our plush red chairs and the house lights start to dim, the CHAPTERS experience is defined by anticipation.
Guest author Ana Castillo’s words were probably the first time of the night that all of the readers, mentees and mentors alike, are totally focused on the same thing. All of the mentees listen carefully for gems of advice, words of wisdom that can be passed from someone that has worked in the business that we all want to make our ways into someday. Castillo has an amazing voice for storytelling and she shared that she wished she’d had such an amazing program when she was younger.
My mentor Kristen Demaline and I were the second readers this time. We were up on stage before we knew it, reading a piece that we’d spent a lot of time passing back and forth, getting the comedic timing just right as well as putting in enough mushy-gushy stuff to show that this is our last piece together under the wings of Girls Write Now. I talk about how we’ve been together for three years and how much I’ve learned from her, while she talks about how she can’t wait to see how well I do in college; something that’s a given, in her mind. Then we’re off the stage and grinning at each other as we sit down and another reader takes our abandoned spot on the Scholastic stage, introducing herself and her piece.
CHAPTERS is an amazing event. It shows how much all of the mentees and mentors have learned and grown from being a part of Girls Write Now. It gives girls a place for our voices to be heard, somewhere we can really show what we think and feel. It brings together a community that’s supportive of each other and everyone’s work till the very end. It gives mentees without confidence a place to gain it and mentors the chance to see their mentees shine. It gives families a place to come together in a creative way and be a part of our community. As a graduating senior, I know that CHAPTERS gave me a place to get back in touch with my performing background, one that had become rusty after years of not being onstage. It’s one of the events that I’ll miss most when I’m no longer a mentee. More than anything about CHAPTERS, however, I’ll miss my fellow mentees who I read with and the ability to hear their amazing pieces from the front row.