A note from Caleb
As I have just this week finished my undergraduate studies, turning in a finely tuned creative project of thirty pages, I can understand to some degree the level of time, effort, and skill required to complete a novella. Unlike Ariana, however, my project has not been published and thus has not undergone the same level of edits and in-depth thought. And, to boot, she has done it at only 12 years old! So, let’s take a moment to celebrate Ariana’s monumental achievement. You can read her complete novella here.
As suggested by the epigraph of Ariana’s novella, a quote from Oscar Wilde, The Trials and Tribulations of Swifty Appledoe is an inspiring bildungsroman that highlights the importance of being oneself. With a deft understanding of adolescent psychology, Ariana has crafted a deeply empathic, complex, and funny narrative that people of all ages will relate to. Within this excerpt from chapter 17, we see Ariana’s special ability to oscillate between moods while always operating within the realm of taught excitement, thus illustrating the complex array of human emotion present in times of uncertainty.
Within her interview with ’20–21 Stone Soup Intern Anya Geist, Ariana revealed a tendency not to adhere to a strict outline as past teachers had advised, but rather to operate with a looser plan that maximized the potential for experimentation. This philosophy, I think, can be seen within the text. Ariana’s ability to encompass a vast spectrum of feeling is emblematic of a writer perfectly in tune with the thoughts and feelings of their characters, her looser vision for the narrative providing an antidote to tunnel vision that allows the text to lead its author to the same extent the author leads it.
So, this week I’d like you to come with a loose idea for a story. When you sit down and write, try and allow the story to lead you more so than you lead it. Meditate on its themes. Try and fully inhabit your character(s). Let them take you where they want to take you. As always, if you like what you’ve written, please send it to us at Stone Soup for consideration either in the magazine or on the blog.
Until next time,
Book Contest 2021
To submit your manuscript, please visit our submittable site.
Highlights from the past week online
Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
Young Blogger Kathleen Werth wrote a stellar essay on the impact of The Beatles.
Young Blogger Daniel Zhu wrote about the history and merits of Spartan education.
Writing classes and Book Club
Are you looking for classes to inspire, improve, and practice your writing with great teachers and a group of like-minded young writers and readers? Join us! We do charge fees for our clubs and workshops, but we try to keep them as low as possible, and we offer discounts to subscribers and scholarships to students who need them. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Writing Workshop: we have two writing groups for spring/summer that meet via Zoom every Saturday (except for William’s class, which does not meet for the last Saturday of the month). Come write with us and share your work with your peers. Find out more and register for a workshop at Eventbrite. To see some of the great work produced by current workshop members, read contributions published at Stonesoup.com, or join us at one of our free public readings!
Book Club: a book club for writers that meets via Zoom on the last Saturday of every month. Find out more and register for book club at Eventbrite. Check out which books we are reading on our website.
Young Author’s Studio Summer Camps: we are offering a wide range of classes through the summer jointly with the Society of Young Inklings. Each camp runs for two hours per day, Monday through Thursday. All details and bookings via Society of Young Inklings.
By Ariana Kralicek, 12 (Auckland, New Zealand)
On the way to the hospital, everything is like a jumble. It kind of feels like sorting through old books, if you know what I mean. There are the ones you love, ones you hate, and ones you can’t even remember reading.
Like now. We’re speeding along the streets, Grandma at the wheel and me yelling, “Go, go, go!”
I hate that it’s uncertain about how Mum and my brother are. I haven’t heard anything about them yet. And I can’t remember what happened at school. It’s like it was one of those dreams you can’t think about after it’s over because you’ve forgotten.
Finally, we arrive at the Auckland Hospital.
“Hurry, Grandma!” I impatiently beg as she unloads bags upon bags of gifts.
She asks me to carry some for her. I do. They probably weigh at least several kilograms, but they feel as light as feathers to me.
We race inside the main building, Grandma briskly walking and me pulling her along crazily. When we get to the reception desk, the lady sitting behind it stares at us boredly. How is she not excited?! This is so weird! Ugh, Swifty. Snap out of it!
“Purpose of visit?” she blandly asks.
“Grace McClean!” My grandma’s dentures nearly fly out of her mouth. She’s really excited.
“Okay. That’s level seven, ward three,” she replies.
We hurry over to the elevator. I jab repeatedly at the button going up, while Grandma smiles at me, stressed but bursting with excitement, her foot tapping on the hard floor. Oh boy!
The elevator finally arrives, and we race inside. I jab at the level-seven button, and slowly but surely, we go up.
“H-hurry, hurry, hurry,” I whisper. “H-hurry, hurry, h-h-hurry.”
Ding! The elevator doors roll open. Grandma wobbles out, a big smile plastered on her face.
“Ward three—there it is!” she shrieks cheerily.
But just as we’re about to go in, I feel a terrible nervous pang in my stomach. My throat squeezes shut in panic. I feel like I can’t breathe. I grip my grandmother’s hand tightly, feeling the map of her life stretched across her wrinkled palm.
Stone Soup is published by Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization registered
in the United States of America, EIN: 23-7317498.
Stone Soup's Advisors: Abby Austin, Mike Axelrod, Annabelle Baird, Jem Burch, Evelyn Chen, Juliet Fraser, Zoe Hall, Montanna Harling, Alicia & Joe Havilland, Lara Katz, Rebecca Kilroy, Christine Leishman, Julie Minnis, Jessica Opolko, Tara Prakash, Denise Prata, Logan Roberts, Emily Tarco, Rebecca Ramos Velasquez, Susan Wilky.