Ask yourself the question ‘What makes a beautiful view?’
It’s a difficult task. You’ll find either that you’ll come up with an endless list of possible features, or that you identify a few glittering generalities that are so vague they fit every vista. It is the same with writing. Even for an English teacher, the question “What makes great writing?” is almost impossible to answer. The thing is that, like a beautiful view, you always know great writing when you see it.
Katherin Kemmler’s winning entry for the Dublin Literary Award is a great piece of writing and I am not surprised that she saw off over a thousand other entries to claim the prestigious first place in this nation-wide competition. Lanna students have been fairly consistent at winning the regional first-place prize for a number of years, but this is the first time one of our students has won the national prize. What is so special about Katherin’s piece? Well, read it and you will see from the first paragraph the writing is consistently interesting. Her approach is unique and she confidently varies the style and pace of her writing so that the audience is drawn along on a journey of developing ideas. There is nothing generic about her writing and I think that is what appealed -unanimously- to the judges.
As her prize, Kathrin has won a trip for two to Ireland during the Dublin Literary festival. A very exciting prospect for anyone, and no doubt some of you are realising that it is an opportunity which may be achievable to you too.
And if you want to become (like Kathrin) a great writer – how do you approach that? Another difficult question. I don’t know if great writing can be taught; it can be nurtured but for something so hard to define, how do you say ‘do it like this’? So, what do great writers have in common? Great writers are usually people who read a lot; they are people who love to read and they are people who have read for a long time. They are also perceptive people; they are engaged and interested in the world around them, they are always looking and always thinking about what they see.
Does that sound like you? This competition comes around every year and, if past records are anything to go by, the chances of a Lanna student winning again are pretty high.