Check out the 2017-18 YAC Zine by clicking the image above. It will take you to a PDF download link. Happy summer reading from the YACs.
To read the novel PORPHYROPHOBIA by the 2016-17 class of Young Authors Collective, click here. (You can download it as a PDF.)
By Aiyana Spear
The christmas lights in front of her were distracting- preventing any form of productivity. Her eyes glazed over as she stared at them, patterns embedding themselves on memory. The air outside still smelled of rain, the type of rain that falls on freshly cut grass and creates a world that smells clean- air that hasn’t been marred by pollution, air you can breathe without toxicity. But inside was dusty and claustrophobic, any trace of the rain that had fallen appeared to disappear. Sometimes she wasn’t sure if she imagined it falling- if all of the rain had just been her imagination.
Are christmas lights still christmas lights when it’s no longer December?
You never wanted them to be taken down, the idea that lights have always been used during winter when the darkness gets to be too much is poetic, but sometimes you need those lights in spring too. The world needs those lights.
The water droplets still falling from her hair, her clothes, her backpack, reminded her of their existence- reminded her that the water had fallen. Perhaps such reminders aren’t necessary for most people, but she has never been entirely like most people. Her hands traced the edges of her pen, long ago having stopped writing what with the christmas lights twinkling at the edges of every thought.
You clicked the pen in a disjointed pattern, ignoring the glares that people sent your way every so often. Sometimes quiet was perfection and sometimes quiet was the monster and the clicking pen was the only way to fight. It’s why you listened to stories to fall asleep to or why your foot tapped or why music during work-time was the only way to get things done.
It feels as though we’re at the top of the roller coaster, about to go hurtling down into the unknown.
It feels as though we’re in an exit only lane, driving driving
From a highway that we know and can drive without thinking
To a highway with 6 lanes
cars hurtling past
The clicking pen was a new distraction, the patterns of the lights ebbed away and now it all was that sound. It wasn’t terrible, but it was something to focus on. Perhaps she was looking for excuses. It has always felt impossible to be productive when there are so many things to do for so many different people. She stood up, realizing that the room was incredibly claustrophobic. Walking outside, she worried that all eyes were on her.
They always say that everybody is worried about everyone else looking and so nobody is looking
But based on us judging people is that really true?
You have always loved movement. And no, not the sports type but all facets of movement. It’s incredible what bodies can do. Fingers contorting into a language, feet creating rhythm, the elegance is immeasurable.
The air outside was cleaner than usual, and it was more evident that it had rained than when she was inside staring through a window. The grass was dewy, sure to soak socks if one wanted to take off shoes. Sometimes she missed the way the world had looked before the smog filled up the air- before everyone had to use oxygen masks to even step foot outside. Rain was the only time this world even seemed like that one. The pollution was at least washed away for a few seconds.
You stared out of the window, distracted from the pen clicking if only for a few seconds. The rain reminded you of the world when you were little, and watching others appreciate it as much as you felt like connection- connection that seemed so rare in this stuffy room.
Sometimes all we want is connection
Aiyana shared this with Abigail
Aiyana likes to write hybrid pieces and has been a YAC member for 4 years. If writing were not an option, then knitting would be the most logical creative outlet for her.
Aiyana Answers the YAC Peculiar Questionnaire
- Describe the most embarrassing picture of you as a baby that your parents use to blackmail you. My parents tend to not blackmail me but if they were to it would be a picture of me and my sister wearing pointed colorful hats (for shade) eating ice cream. I had ice cream on my nose and was wearing a floral swimsuit.
- What is your third least favorite color and what number do you associate with it? Neon Green, 66
- What’s your favorite mythical creature? Animagus (animagi?)
- What is the current bane of your existence? Running (We’re in running quarter at school and I HATE IT).
- What’s the most extreme action literature has ever provoked you to do? I’m not entirely sure. Many times I have stayed up past midnight reading or writing, which is extreme for me because I usually sleep at 9.
- What game show would you want to be on? Why? Do cooking shows count? I can cook but I would not want to be on a game show.
- If you were a parrot, which Eastern European country would you travel to and why? Czech Republic during the summer: I’ve heard Prague is lovely and is not absolutely freezing in summer, and as a parrot I would want warmth.
- Who is your B-list celebrity crush? (Famous but not that famous.) Katie McGrath is the love of my life (although I say a lot of things are the love of my life).
- F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues.” What’s yours? Probably hope.
- What is your favorite Cards Against Humanity card? Okay, if you’re not familiar with Cards Against Humanity, answer this. On a scale of 1-10, how much do you hate whales? I’m familiar with it but, -100000 whales are great.
- If you were indicted tomorrow, what would the charges be? Jaywalking (I had a very elaborate dream in which I got arrested for jaywalking twice and had to check the box on the common app it was stressful).
- Please provide a weird stock photo that describes you personally.
YAC is a group of slightly crazy teenagers, and I use that word fondly.
Laughter colors the walls of the room that we meet in, and I doubt that color will ever fully go away.
Every person brings their own skillsets, and somehow those skills create a conglomeration of incredible stories.
We are crazy, and nerdy and if you were a fly on the wall it might scare you a little bit, but we are YAC, and laughter fills our lungs. by Aiyana Spear
Chewing the shadows
Cutting open words
As building blocks
For your soul
by Abigail Munson
YAC is low-key a bunch of crazy high school students that get together on Wednesdays and talk about a lot of stuff, mostly writing, but sometimes weird stuff, like Adam’s irrational fear of a pea, or Lucy’s hue of purple or how Katy can’t spell, but none of us can spell, really, or form a complete sentence (like this one – it’s gone on way too long) but we still call ourselves writers, and that’s good and all because we’re all really good writers, but we all write different stuff, like Abigail who writes like a ton of poetry with all those really clever biblical allusions, and Madison who writes all this fantasy stuff that’s really cool, and always gets confused with Madeline, for some reason who always writes like way too much and can’t even finish this damn sentence, and Cassidy, who has like, a pretty weird sense of humor , but that’s cool and all, and Ellen usually writes about herself, but sometimes it’s about Hello Kitty instead (and maybe Hello Kitty should be considered a member of YAC) and Aiyana writes descriptive essays, and Sierra writes a little bit of everything, and Thalia dresses like all darkly, which is weird because her writing is so bright, and I think that’s everyone, except for Jesaka, who has to be included, of course, and I’m not sure what she writes, but I’m sure it’s as good as the prompts she gives us, and that’s YAC, 🙂 by Madeline Dean
A place where I thought new things and mastered new thought. A room where lives were created. A group of great people I will carry with me forever. A space where anything is possible and magic can happen. A mindset where kindness and friendship are born. A home where new worlds are traveled and explored together. by Katy C McDonald
YAC is somewhere I’m understood
YAC is splendiferous
YAC is where writers can be themselves
YAC is where friendships begin and creativity never has to end
YAC is like a convening of Powerful sorcerers
YAC is home
by Madison Hart
Land of misfit toys. But hey, we’re writers, what do you expect. Oddly enough, there’s very little writing involved, just a lot of inside jokes about writing. Or about the snack table. Or about each other. Mostly about each other. by Thalia Medrano
There are two types of people in YAC… those who like linked stories and Cassidy. by Cassidy Nicks
A concept, a feeling.
It is not merely our group name,
It is green carpets, plush chairs.
It is laughter about nothing,
Laughter about everything.
It is Wednesdays and plot
holes and inside jokes.
We are YAC; YAC is within us
I know that sounds kinda
sappy, but the thing that
YAC is most, is the people.
Each year it changes,
because this people change.
At heart it is an
idea – and an idea
can go anywhere.
by Sierra Karas
By Aiyana Spear
Ghostly fingers stroked the keys and beautiful music resulted.
It was a party, and some say that you hear the most lovely music in the world at parties.
No one seemed to notice that it didn’t appear that anyone was playing the instrument; it is more important for the music to be heard than it
is for the musician to be seen after all.
Sonatas and concertos filled the room, shoes clicking in time with the rhythm, dresses of every color only enhancing the magnificent gold decorations.
“Thump. Thump. Thump.” ….. hide hide hide
Whispers, fabric rustling, heels clicking, music silenced
Silence, eyes following movement, muffled breathing
“Thump. Thump. Thump.” ….. come out come out dance dance
Colorful dresses, a sonata continued, heels tapping the rhythm
Maybe it wasn’t a party now, the
music not as lovely as before, the dancing not as lively.
Apprehension now lived on their faces, not fear-yet, but nerves.
What if she comes back?
By Aiyana Spear
In my opinion, the sign of an incredible book is when I read it and it sticks with me for days after. I finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas almost two weeks ago, and there has not been a day where I didn’t think about it. I believe that I will continue to think about this book for the rest of my life.
Reading about current social and political issues can be difficult; often when reading I want a book that will distract me from our current US problems. Writing about these issues can also be difficult due to the challenge of maintaining a balance between not wanting to go too far and be too political but still wanting to get your message across. Angie Thomas successfully and skillfully finds that balance, and her book, The Hate U Give, is a book that all Americans should read- especially white americans like me. When picking up this book for the first time, I assumed that it would be solely the gruesome, gut-wrenching details of a young black boy who was killed by a police officer. I assumed that it would only make me more exhausted that the issues so evident around me keep happening. I thought that it would leave me hanging only feeling more hopeless about the state of our world today. And in a way, it did, but not in the way I thought it would, and it did not exhaust me.
“A hairbrush is not a gun”
Starr faces many difficulties in this book, such as: witnessing her friend being killed, dealing with ptsd and struggling with “simple” things such as arguments with her parents and her white boyfriend. These difficulties made Starr feel like a real person who I could connect with. Often I wanted to take her and wrap her up in a blanket and protect her from the world, but Starr does not need my or anyone else’s protection- she is a badass who has gone through way too much for a 16 year old.
The main characters in YA novels have steadily become younger than me, both because I am getting older and these protagonists are getting younger; Starr is a year younger than me and she has gone through more than any teenager should ever have to go through. But the thing is, there is a Starr out there in this world, there are black teens and children in this world who have gone through more than I can ever imagine going through. And that is the value of this book this book makes the struggles of all of those children out there real- it gives them a voice and maybe, just maybe, it’ll change one person’s mind out there.
This book does not sugarcoat our world, it does not paint a rosy picture and, no spoilers or anything, it does not give the reader a hollywood ending where everything turns out perfectly. And after reading it, I wouldn’t want it to. It is searingly raw and honest and it not only tells of the story of a boy shot by the police and the aftermath of it, but it tells the story of a young black girl straddling two different worlds, the one of her black neighborhood and the other of her white rich school.
This book gives the human stories of people who are deeply impacted by the Black Lives Matter movement, who were incredibly affected by the many people who died. After reading this book, Black Lives Matter became more than a hashtag on twitter or a protest on the news, it became a real issue that is impacting teenagers just like me. This book is a searing portrayal of a heart wrenching movement.
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice.”
I believe that art doesn’t need a purpose. To do art, all you need is the drive to do it. But in times of crisis, art is one of the most valuable tools out there that can help people.
When I’m scared, I turn to stories. When I’m feeling hopeless, I turn to words. My sister turns to music, my friends turn to comics, movies, shows, watercolors, calligraphy, and (of course) books. In class when we are discussing tough topics, we always take breaks and do drawing competitions or lip sync battles.
Happiness, love, hope are the most important things that can help a person through a crisis. Art creates these emotions. Stories help to ground, help make sense of seemingly incomprehensible things. Music can bring peace and stability. Movies, shows, provide escape, painting is peace. All forms of art are works of love, and that love, that power, can help people get through crises, get through hell.
If you’re stranded in the middle of the forest with a Rembrandt, don’t be afraid to use that priceless son of a gun as kindling in a fire. One of the most common deaths when stranded in the wilderness is hypothermia, and if you can’t get a fire going, you will get sick and you will die. Remember, Van Gogh used to use burn his paintings for warmth and if an artistic master has no qualms about setting artistic masterpieces aflame, then you shouldn’t either. Even if the only reason you’re holding the authentic oil on canvas painting is so you can auction it off to a shady group of Russian oligarchs, remember that despite its acclaim, The Night Watch is not worth your life. Although, given the fact that that painting is twelve by eleven feet, you could probably also the canvas as a tent. While you lay awake at night, wondering if you will die in the untameable Scandinavian wilderness, you can also study the intentional strokes made by one of the greatest painters that ever lived. Art students across the globe have studied every tiny intricacy of the famous tarp that could shield you from the harsh elements. To me, that’s real prestige.
Aiyana Spear grew up going to a variety of schools, including an art school, a science school, a farm school, and, finally, an all girls athletic school (GALS), which is the one she has been going to and loving for the past three years. She is in that period of high school where there’s nonstop stress (11th grade and multiple AP classes). And yet, she still finds time every week to go to Young Authors Collective (YAC) and write numerous hybrid pieces (because she doesn’t have to follow any rules). Aiyana’s love of math bleeds into her writing, where she combines that love with her love of words and stories.
“I write because writing heals me, because I find joy with just a pen, paper, and me.” ~ Aiyana
by Aiyana Spear
About Adam Dorsheimer
Before you ask, that hat he was wearing was from his trip to Ireland this summer. He says Ireland was cool, but he also claims to have only met, like, three Irish people- though I guess that’s what happens when you visit during tourist season. When asked to pick between cats and dogs the response comes after he has turned away, embarrassed, and he mumbles “Fish.” He’s that kid who’s allergic to, like, everything. He gets really defensive about DC comics, but willingly admits that the movies are not great. He says that he tends to profile people, I mean, most people do but he worries that his snap judgements are rude.
Adam, who quotes various comedians, has a love of English class, and who would choose invisibility as his superpower.