Kaitlin Wells, Guest Contributor

More-than-curriculum-Mar2015What some people do not know about the One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) is that it is not just a writing training course for young writers; it is also a vibrant creative community with an online forum, monthly webinars, and workshop events. Kaitlin Wells, a longtime “OYANer,” now studying creative writing at Kansas State University, shares why she believes students should join the OYAN community:

 

Wanted: You

Some people search their whole lives for community. They scuff their feet along the sidewalk, peering into metaphorical windows and jiggling locked door-handles, just yearning for a sense of belonging. A home—that’s the dream, right? A group of people who will take you as you are and love you for it. I count myself among the infinitesimal portion of humans who are blessed to have found such a community at a young age.

The One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) community isn’t just a giant peer critique group or a writing mentorship program. It’s a family. Sure, most families live under an actual roof, but we’ve always been a little nutty. We’re strewn across continents. We’ve got everyone from thirteen-year-olds to people in their twenties. What does that mean? Every student has a place.

Summer Workshop feet photo

Only so many feet could fit!

One of the coolest parts of joining OYAN is the welcome you receive and the people you start to bond with. You can expect greetings ranging from a shower of virtual skittles and a nickname, to deep, intellectual, faith-based conversations that strengthen and challenge you as a writer and a person.

Unfortunately, creative people are often misunderstood. I mean, maybe you’ve been gifted with an incredible group of friends, and more pals from OYAN would just be icing on the your social cake. Or, maybe… you’re more like I was at thirteen years old. Lonely, and hungry for acceptance.

That’s where OYAN stepped in for me and for so many others. It’s a safe haven filled with all kinds of individuals—including people who have been through exactly what you’re feeling and have come out stronger on the other side.

Winter Workshop session

Enjoying a session at a Winter Workshop

 

So, you’re a writer—or, you want to be a writer. Perhaps you’re not sure what you’re doing, but you could use the English credit. What can you expect from OYAN’s community?

  • Someone who loves your story almost as much as you do. With the vast array of interests presented on the forum alone, you can find someone willing to offer insight, praise, and suggestions on each chapter of your work. Bonus: They might also become your best friend.
  • A healthy helping of support. Going through something tough? We’ve got your back. It doesn’t matter if it’s three in the morning. If your world is ending, we’ve got a lot of shoulders, and a lot of combined experience.
  • More book suggestions than you will ever be able to read in your lifetime, ever. My OYAN friends are some of the most well-read people I have ever met. I don’t have to wade through stacks of sludge to find literary gold. They’ve already done it. Now, I only w
    Game at Summer Workshop

    Students enjoying a game at a Winter Workshop.

    ade if I want to.

  • An urge to go to the OYAN Summer Workshop. The Summer Workshop is like the Mecca of OYAN. People travel for days to attend this thing. It’s an opportunity to spend some quality time with the people you’ve grown to love. It’s a cacophony of people nerding out, sporting costumes, singing, drawing, knitting, taking pictures, offering each other peer critique, and listening to talks from Mr. S. that will make you cry. You can try to fight it, but it’s inevitable, so you might as well try to embrace it.

Most importantly, the experiences and friendships of OYAN will round you out in good ways. They bring authenticity to your writing. The OYAN community is exactly the kind of place that enriches you and helps you handle the transition to adulthood.

Friends at the Summer Workshop

Kaitlin reunited with friends.

Without OYAN, I would be a completely different person. And, that kind of terrifies me. How can a single group of people help you, support you, love you so much that they change your life?

In a world so dark, the OYAN family has the courage to love with open hearts. Now, the only question is: Are you courageous enough to call OYAN “Home?” We’ll leave the door unlocked and the light on.

If you could give one reason why a young writer should consider joining the OYAN community, what would it be? Please share as a comment.

About Kaitlin
Kaitlin Wells is nineteen and the second of five fantastic kids of wonderful, patient parents. She’s been a member of the OYAN family for over five years. Kaitlin’s pastimes include taping posters about healthy body image all over her dorm, pledging Alpha Phi Omega, reading on her kindle, not understanding how to properly eat tacos, knitting, and Skyping friends.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Emily Tjaden

    Fabulous post! I agree 100%, Kaitlin.

    If I had to choose one reason to recommend joining the OYAN community, it would be the sheer realness of it. The people you meet there are genuine. They’re the kind of forever-friends you dream about having as a little child. Those kinds of people aren’t a myth–they live at OYAN. They’re real. And as Kaitlin said, they changed my life.

  2. Adrienne N.

    There are many reasons I would encourage someone to join OYAN, but if I had to pick one, it would be because as Kate has said, OYAN is Home. And there’s no place like Home.

  3. Jessica Brown

    I struggled with writing for awhile. Not real, not alive. Then my older sis found OYAN and it changed both of our writing. I have “met” some awesome writers and met some in real life. OYAN has changed not only my writing, but also my life.

  4. Micaela Sparrow

    Yes to all of this. OYAN not only improved my writing a hundred fold but gave me most of the only real friends I have and a sense of belonging I have nowhere else.

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