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An update from our sixteenth Weekly Writing Workshop!

A summary of the workshop, plus some of the output published below 

The Stone Soup Weekly Writing Workshop is open to all Stone Soup contributors and subscribers. Every Friday, we meet for an hour-and-a-half via Zoom to respond to a new writing challenge, write together in our virtual room, and then share what we have written with one another. 

Our session on July 17 was joined by young writers from across the US, as well as in France and the UK. This was also the second time we have had a participant lead the Writing Workshop; Stone Soup contributor Liam Hancock, 13, led us in a very fascinating presentation about mixing genres of writing. Thank you, Liam! Our discussion started with a brief definition of “mixing genres,” or “cross-genre,” which is when a piece of writing uses more than one genre. This was followed by a clip from the 2009 movie-adaptation Coraline, and more information about the book (which is by Neil Gaiman). Liam talked us through identifying different genres in Coraline, and for the most part, we all agreed that it was a mix of horror and fantasy. After this, we learned a little bit about nonsensical poetry, and how it can be an example of mixing genres. The poem we analyzed was Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll. Next, we looked at a few portraits, and thought about how people can represent mixing genres. Finally, we listened to an excerpt from a jazz song performed by Bessie Smith, Sobbin Hearted Blues, and talked about how music can also include cross-genres. Altogether, cross-genre was a very fun topic to learn about and gave rise to some great discussions! Read on to experience some of the powerful writing created in the workshop!

The Writing Challenge: Write a story, poem, or play which mixes genres.

The Participants: Liam, Heather, Ever, Nami, Sophia, James, Aditi, Kanav, Simran, Ma’ayan, Sasha, Shel, Charlotte, Suman, Vishnu, Araliya, Tilly, Abi, Anya, James, Michele, Sneha, Sonal, Enni,  Ally, Abi, Madeline, and more...

Anya Geist, 14
Worcester, MA

The Boy in the Basement

Anya Geist, 14

A little boy
Was in the basement
Of a house so old and crumbly

The doors were rotted
The windows cracked
The floors creaked and groaned

And every night
When the moon shone upon
A scraggly tree out front

The winds would blow
And wrack the house
In ghastly shivers and chills

The little boy did not mind, though
For unlike you might think,
His basement was not moldy and gross

It did not brim with fungi
Nor be as cold as ice
Nor house the same dreariness as everywhere else

The basement was small
With concrete walls
And a flickering light overhead

But the boy had painted the walls
Had painted the ceiling, the floor
In a flowery garden

Meadows stretched
As far as he could see
And clouds dotted the sky

The boy’d rest
Upon a drawn willow tree
And slowly close his eyes

As he rested
As he drifted into sleep
Dreams would come

-But were they dreams?
Or was he truly transported
To the fields which made up his life?

Heather Sierra, 10
Mountain View, CA


Heather Sierra, 10

Mio Akiyama had always been the odd one out. She tried to blend in, at home, at school, but no matter how hard she tried, she always stuck out. It wasn’t that she looked different, no. She looked nearly identical to the other girls in her class. She had long, black hair, and gray-brown eyes. That wasn’t it. And she wasn’t poor or rich either, somewhere in between. It was that Mio was left handed. . . and because of her friend, the only friend she had that made her stick out from the crowd.

Mio stood on the porch of her two-story house, clutching her schoolbag. She watched carefully, hoping she wouldn’t be spotted by any of the other kids at her school. No! Mio thought, seeing two girls walking down the concrete street. One had short, brown hair, laughing. The other had long black hair, and was gripping the other girl by the arm. Mio, embarrassed at being seen, ducked back into the house. I guess I’ll. . . wait. Mio decided.

“Mio!” Mio heard a voice, her friend Ritsu’s. Oh no, not now! Mio cracked open the door of her house to see Ritsu.

“Hi.” Mio said shyly.

“Hi!” Ritsu grinned. She had short, brown hair; her bangs held up with a yellow headband, “C’mon, hurry. We ’ll be late for fifth grade! Move it! Move it!” Ritsu grabbed Mio’s left hand and jerked her down the street, chasing the two girls up ahead. Wham! Mio and Ritsu crashed into the two girls up ahead, the two that Mio had intended to avoid.

“Ow-meow!” one of them mewed. Cat? Are they cats? No way! Mio thought. She opened her eyes from where she’d bumped the laughing girl’s back. Instead of the uniformed girl she’d just seen less than ten minutes ago, she saw a brown striped tabby. How could this have happened? Mio thought.

“Ritsu! Come back!” Mio yelled, spotting Ritsu up ahead. But when Mio squinted closer at her friend, she only saw another cat, this time a black one. Mio shuddered, breaking into a panicked run. She arrived at school, and leapt into her classroom, only to find the the striped tabby and a black-and-white cat there. Those two girls! They’re those cats! Mio realized.

“Oh, it’s you.” a voice sneered. Mio whirled around to find the striped tabby.

“H-how c-can I u-understand y-you?” Mio stuttered nervously. She glanced frightened around her classroom. It was normal, like the one she’d had the year before. There was nothing out of the ordinary, just desks and bookshelves.

The tabby didn’t answer Mio’s question, but continued, “Mio Akiyama, what are you doing here without your protection?” Mio turned away shyly, but turned back. Ritsu wasn’t her protection! “M-my p-protection?” Mio asked, quieter than she’d wanted.

“Haha, Ritsu. She’s a cat now!” the tabby laughed. The calico jumped onto Mio, making her trip all of a sudden. Then she heard cackling, evil cackling, and she bolted upright, her head banging against the wall. That was when she realized that she was still in bed. Her alarm clock read five a.m. The cackling still rang in her head, but she knew it was all just a dream.

Mio fell back asleep in seconds. The next time she woke up was at seven, on time. Her fingers were crossed that nothing weird would happen. Holding her schoolbag, she nervously walked downstairs and out the front door. There was no one. She sighed. Phew. Mio thought, No one. She walked down the street as quickly as she could to Ritsu’s house. Approaching her friend’s house, she knocked on the door. But her friend’s voice didn’t reply. There was only a loud meow from a cat.


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