Write-A-Thon about more than money
UH’s community of emerging writers gathered together at the Classroom and Business Building for the annual Write-A-Thon fundraiser on Saturday.
Hosted by Glass Mountain, a UH undergraduate literary magazine, the write-a-thon is an all-day writing event for writers to sharpen their skills, win prizes and contests, share ideas with fellow writers and donate to the organization.
“We call it a write-a-thon, because we compare it to a walk-a-thon, or some other strenuous physical activity where you’re riding or walking, but instead of doing ether of those things, you are actually writing throughout the day,” Aries Jones, editor for Glass Mountain, said.
Since its founding in 2006, Glass Mountain has focused on cultivating the pool of young talent at the University by providing opportunities beyond the classroom.
“This organization was started to support emerging writers, mostly undergraduate students,” Jones said.
“We help young writers get their foot in the door, as they are trying to take that first step toward getting published and establishing their writing style.”
One of the more unique aspects of the WAT is that it offers writers a chance to write in the company of their peers, bounce ideas off of one another during the writing process and compete directly for prizes.
“Being around so many other talented people really pushes me to work harder with my own pieces, especially for the contests,” senior creative writing major Lillian Martchenke said.
One of the contests the WAT hosted was the NANO Fiction Competition, in which participants had one hour to write a complete fictional piece with the first place winner’s work published on Glass Mountain’s website.
Senior creative writing major Gerald Smith was admittedly hesitant about the Write-A-Thon and the competition, but settled in as the day went along and was rewarded with first place.
“I feel more comfortable with poetry, so it was surprising when they called me up there, but it felt great,” Smith said. “Writers usually don’t get much recognition, so to have my work on their website is a great thing.”
Despite the laid back atmosphere, food, prizes and contests, the WAT is first and foremost a fundraising event, but one that the writers gladly embrace.
“There is a little bit of a push, because it is a fundraiser, but everyone here has a sense of duty to give what you can, just to help other writers and to have this communal feel continue,” Smith said.
The funds raised at the event benefit Glass Mountain’s Boldface Conference held every spring. The conference was established in 2009 for emerging writers to hone their talents through workshops, readings and craft talks with professional writers in a week-long event.
The Walk-A-Thon was created the following year to help offset the financial costs associated with such a big event.
“It keeps Boldface very cheap, around $125 or so, which is unusual because any sort of writers conference would normally cost much more, even as much as $1,000,” Glass Mountain Co-Managing Editor Travis Kane said.
“We are trying to keep it less expensive so that people will actually come, because these are young writers and money is always an issue for students.”
Like many college students, Martchenke has struggled financially, but believes that what Glass Mountain is doing is worthwhile.
“The best way for writers to improve is to just sit down to write and be around other writers who are writing as well,” Martchenke said.
“At a conference like Boldface, where you’re confronted with the blank page in front of you and people around you are also confronted with the same challenge. It really encourages you to jump over that hurdle.”