October 15, 2020


October 15, 2020

By Miriam Felman, Grade 12

         Three grade 10 Nepean students, Hussein Khatib, Maddy Zarull, and Natasha Mazerolle, and 2020 graduate Anna Berglas, have been selected for publication in the Young Writers of Canada Poetry and Creative Writing Contests from the Poetry Institute of Canada & Young Writers. They heard about the contests last school year from an NHS teacher, some of them through the Creative Writing Club, and as Hussein put it, “I thought I had nothing to lose.” 

          The story Natasha submitted follows a character searching for a book in a building that was once a library, in a world where books have become extinct. When asked what the story means to her, she said, “I think it means coming to terms with the fact that you may strive for something and what you get isn't completely what you wanted, and I think that's okay because maybe that can send you down a path that leads to something better”. 

          Hussein’s story is called “The Ninth Hour”, and it’s about a character named Alex who keeps seeing the number 9. “He later wakes up from a 9 month coma to find out that he had killed his parents in a car crash”, Hussein explained. The young writer became interested in creative writing when he was in grade 6, and his teacher encouraged his class to expand their imaginations in the stories they wrote. “The fact that nothing was stopping me from writing a good story except for my creativity was great. Once I had an idea for something like a story, I couldn't stop adding to the idea of the story”.  

          Anna, who is a first year English and Cultural Studies student at McGill University, has been writing since she was a small child. A story she wrote about the world breaking apart and her gluing it back together was published in the Ottawa Citizen when she was five. In middle school, she became interested in poetry when she joined a writing club and was “entranced by the directness of the style”. Anna finds her inspiration in the lives of herself and others. “All of my work has roots in truth.” 

          Natasha’s inspiration comes from mythology and folklore. She enjoys writing stories with elements of magic, “whether it's spells and potions or a feeling of wonder and curiosity”. 

          The following is what the award winning writers said when asked if they had any advice for other young writers. 

          Natasha: I'd suggest if you're going to write in first person to always remember your character won't be able to see everything you see as the author. If they're surprised, they wouldn't be able to see their own eyes widen, if another character does something behind them or where they can't see them, the narrator might hear a noise depending on what the other character is doing, but besides that it might be unnecessary to put in. Try to put yourself in your character's viewpoint and always remember to consider what they can and can't see.

          Anna: You will undoubtedly write lousy work, work that's embarrassing to look back on. Don't be ashamed - not only are you still writing, it's a necessary part of the process! 

          Hussein: Never be afraid to use your imagination and creativity in stories. If you don't picture anything while reading your story, you should probably rewrite it because then it's just words on a page. 

          One of the contest-winning pieces will be featured in the November issue of Knightwatch. 

To all of the writers out there, no matter your perceived skill level, take a chance and enter a contest! It’s great practice, and you never know- you might just get rewarded.

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