This blog post is written by Young Author Project Program Manager, Maria Zoccola.
For the Deep Center staff and volunteer Writing Fellows of the Young Author Project (YAP), our greatest joy is always coming together in the schools with our young writers. We count down the hours until workshop day, impatiently waiting for the moment when we get to reunite with our youth to read, discuss, play, grow, and most importantly, write. Each semester, writers in the Young Author Project spend 11 weeks working tremendously hard on writing projects of all kinds while their Writing Fellows cheer them on. At the end of the semester, these masterpieces are collected in a series of anthologies published by Deep and distributed to all Deep youth and their families, and also sold for a small fee to anyone else eager to read what Savannah’s young people are writing about. These YAP anthologies are works of art, and the excitement with which they are received each semester is contagious.
An Unprecedented Semester
The Spring 2020 school semester was an unprecedented one, both for YAP and for the legions of youth and teachers forced to adapt to a rapidly-changing landscape. Schools closed, lessons went virtual, and the entire country suddenly closed its doors. Anxiety and uncertainty were high. At Deep, we remained committed to finishing our semester of programming with our young people, but how did the young people feel? In the middle of a pandemic, did they want to continue to focus on Deep and their writing projects?
The answer, overwhelmingly, was yes. Our Deep writers were vehement that no matter if Deep met in person, over Zoom, or one-on-one over the phone, they were going to finish writing. They were going to achieve publication in the Deep books. And day by day, week by week, they did. They wrote about the pandemic. About their families. About Savannah. About vampires! About dragons! About World War II and anime and Las Vegas. About everything in their heads, and in their hearts, and in their souls. They wrote and they published and they triumphed. Let it be known: in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the youth of Deep’s Young Author Project triumphed.
Our Gift to Savannah
We are in awe of our youth. And what’s more, we are in awe of our Savannah community. Our village is resilient and powerful, and we at Deep are humbly grateful for our place within it. For the first time ever, as a gift to our Savannah community, we have uploaded the Spring 2020 Young Author Project books to an online platform where they can be read for free, by anyone, whenever they want. Physical books are still available for purchase on Amazon, and free books will still be distributed to our published authors and their families, but in the meantime, come read what our young people have been working so hard on. In a world so full of struggle, their words are a true source of light.
Thank you to every young person in Deep’s Young Author Project. Thank you to our staff and Writing Fellows. Thank you to our village. Thank you to Savannah. See you next semester.