Calling All Writers!

Wondering what to do this summer? Check out the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. There is no word to describe it except “amazing”.

Summer’s coming.

Yes, yes, I know—it’s only February. But the beginning of second semester is when I, at least, start to tentatively gaze off into that bright, warm light, and realize that summer might eventually come back after all.

And part of that looking forward to freedom is figuring out what exactly you’re going to fill those lovely long, empty days with (besides all six seasons of “Bones” and daily ice cream cones). Well, as this is a library blog, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that maybe some of you like to write.

If so, put down those summer-camp brochures right now, because I know exactly the place for you: the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio.

The IYWS is an intense two-week overnight writing camp at Iowa University in Iowa City. “Iowa City? Why?” you say. But as it turns out, Iowa City is kind of known for its literary badass qualities. As in, it’s got some of the best writing programs out there for adults—the most well-known is perhaps the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—, it’s been home or stomping ground to dozens and dozens of renowned writers (Kurt Vonnegut and Flannery O’Connor among them), and the number of bookstores downtown is incredible. The Iowa Young Writers’ Studio is just another one of Iowa’s bibliophilic superpowers.

Now, camps always like to flaunt their esteemed teachers, majestic landscapes, and actually palatable cafeteria food. But let’s skip all that. Yep, IYWS has amazing teachers, whose writing will make you cry with near a hundred different emotions, and who—gasp!—can actually teach. Yep, Iowa is gorgeous (although I’m pretty sure it is hot and humid enough to actually hard-boil an egg on the sidewalk, so bring lots of sun block). And yeah, the food is good enough that you actually want seconds—if only of dessert. But most importantly, IYWS really does have the potential to change your life—and coming from me, someone who generally gags at that phrase, that means something. Before Iowa, I liked to write, but I wasn’t sure that I was, or could ever be, a writer. I had no idea if I was any good, and I could never envision actually pursuing writing as a career. Sure, it was fun, but I like to eat.

Then I went to Iowa.
And, well, even now I don’t know how good a writer I am—although really, isn’t that a bit subjective after all?—but I do know that at Iowa I was surrounded by 60 kids and a dozen teachers whose writing I admired (well, adored really), and they viewed my writing as worthwhile, and me as a peer. As someone with talent. And that, in turn, made me view myself that way. Not to the extent of getting a big head (I really hope), but to the point that I realized that maybe this is something serious. Writing is one of the great loves of my short (so far) life, always has been, but it was Iowa that taught me to embrace that fact.

And sure, now that I’ve been around some real-life working writers I’ve realized that hey! I’m right! They really don’t make much money, and there probably is a lot of living on canned beans. Yet none of that seems to matter to them or me, anymore. I want to write, one way or another.

So, long-winded speech over. Told you how awesome Iowa is? Check! (Plus it has pie-shakes and amazing friends to be made—really, truly, even though the brochure says so!—and dress-up proms and karaoke and penny candy and ghost sightings and adventure). Told you how it’ll change your life? Check!

But of course there are cons, you say.
Well, yes. It’s not the easiest camp to get into. If I remember right, around 300 or 400 teens applied last summer, and only 130 or so were accepted.
And yeah, it costs. But IYWS also wants you to come no matter what if you’re accepted, and to this aim they have extensive need-based scholarships. For some people it’s basically free.

Really, there’s only one big con: you can only go once.

Check it out, I mean it. There’s nothing quite like Iowa.
Now, it’s finally time for me to go to sleep (Yes, math test, I see you there, looming over my head…), but I’ll leave you with this last thought: Every time I go on Facebook at least one of my friends from Iowa is sighing about how much they miss camp. And, as most of us actually have a life in our own state, it’s not because we’re not used to having friends. Iowa is special. Just how special, I encourage you to find out.

Post by Rheannon Lyons

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