You missed out on Lit Fest


Students gather around Jeffrey Brown to learn about graphic novels at Literary Festival on Nov. 14

Literary Festival (Lit Fest) is an annual gathering that introduces students of senior writing classes to some of the best journalists, authors, and even songwriters around our area.
Some of the speakers New Trier hosted this year were Jay Bonansinga, Jeffrey Brown, David Kaplan and even William Deresiewicz.
To my disappointment, some students did not take this day as seriously as I would have expected.
While walking through the halls, I heard many comparing this day to Expanding the Circle day of 2013.
Granted, ETC day was fun while it lasted, but in the end, it had little educational benefit.
For a few, ETC was a success because kids got to see a motivational speaker, Johnny Cupcakes. For the majority, the day seemed pointless because all students learned about was the latest movie trivia or the location of Narnia in our school.
From what I remember, a little over half of the school actually attended that day. Meaning, the other half was enjoying their day off out to lunch or at the movie theater with their friends.
Lit Fest was so closely compared to ETC day that I think some believed they could just skip this day, too.
This year for Lit Fest, English teachers were drowned with complaints about students missing AP classes and having to do extra work. For many, this presentation of speakers is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the fact that some students didn’t take advantage of this is discouraging.
I personally thought that the stories from each of the speakers I saw were moving and motivational. Each seminar offered me insight into writing techniques such as the triangulation of senses or even the incorporation of realism into novels. Although I may not be writing fiction in my future, their advice motivated me to improve my own writing.
Investigative journalist Chris Steiner shared his story of being fresh out of graduate school and not knowing where he was going in life.
He slid some samples of his work under the door of an editor at the Chicago Tribune not knowing what would happen.
He waited months and heard no response, until one day he received a life-changing phone call. It was the Tribune calling to offer him a job.
I was shown that success is ultimately gained by taking risks. Without trying something new or putting yourself out there, nothing is going to change in your life.
Author Julie Halpern also shared her story of becoming a writer. She opened her session by stating that it was okay if we don’t know what we want to be when we are older because she never expected to become an author until later in her life.
Throughout her life, Halpern struggled with severe depression, and she expressed how important writing was to her recovery.
Writing allows people to express their emotions. Halpern showed how transforming her emotions into stories can be an important outlet.
Although some argued that these are life lessons that they already knew or could learn on their own, hearing this advice from role models has a greater impact.
I consider writing a passion of mine, so this experience may have been more important to me than for others.
Either way, for any one who is remotely interested in writing, the only way to expand your knowledge is to expose yourself to samples of successful writers in the real world.
For those who skipped, just know that you missed a great day, one you will never get back.