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As my final year as an undergraduate at university comes to a close, I’ve begun to think over my time here and what I’ve managed to accomplish over the past three years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the most wonderful time and, personally, I wouldn’t change a moment of it, but a recent spate of panic-inducing C.V. workshops and careers events has left me thinking that maybe I ought to have spent my time at university more proactively.
In today’s fierce and ultra-competitive job market, it’s important to stand out, to have something on your C.V. that’s a real achievement: it’s not all about good grades anymore, you have to show that you’re a versatile and interesting character rather than just a number-cruncher. What better way then to prove your individuality and attest to your creativity by writing a novel and, more importantly, getting it published in your teens before you’ve even graduated? Well, whilst I’m floundering to fill out job applications and personal statements, that’s exactly what James Bartholomeusz, a second year student at my University, has done.
People often say that there’s a novel inside all of us and many would-be writers will spend their entire lives trying to access that creative spirit, but for some, inspiration strikes a little earlier and the literary world is starting to take young authors more seriously. I was surprised to learn that the world’s youngest published author, Meleik Delaney, is just four years old. For James Bartholomeusz, his first book The White Fox, a fantasy adventure across dark worlds clearly inspired by the likes of Philip Pullman, is part one in a trilogy of novels for Medallion Press’ YA-YA (Young Adults writing for Young Adults) range. Medallion Press launched the YA-YA scheme in 2010 and Bartholomeusz’s book is the first publication from the imprint. The CEO of Medallion Press, Helen Rosburg, started the scheme with the intention of reaching out to younger generations through the creative voice of their peers and giving young writers a chance to showcase their work.
Medallion Press aren’t the only ones noticing the potential in young writers; nowadays, plenty of major organisations, such as the BBC and the Royal Court Theatre, offer opportunities for fresh, creative talent to get involved. Indeed, Litro Magazine‘s International Young Person’s Short Story Award is a fantastic chance for young people to start writing and earn some recognition.
Some may argue that as a teenager, you haven’t refined your literary style, that you aren’t yet mature enough to be able to grapple with complex ideas. Personally, however, I believe that young writers ought to be encouraged; even if you haven’t had decades to plan, draft, and redraft your work, publishers can often spot promising talent even in the roughest teen scribbles.