Maecyn Klassen’s life to date has been one featuring fiction and fantasy, heroes and heroines.
When she’s not delving deep into a good book, the Sardis secondary student is often jotting down ideas of her own.
“I have been writing since I was seven or eight,” she recalls, and her love of all things literary has lasted right through to her teen years.
“I liked to write stories and draw pictures (when I was younger), and that sort of branched off to where I’d have journals full of stories, with things that turned into something more and things that didn’t.”
One short piece, titled Ode on a Wine Label, recently fell into the first category. The prose, so abbreviated it could be labeled postcard fiction, has been published in a well-respected anthology for youth.
“It is easily one of the most exciting things that has happened to me in my life,” she says.
Klassen found out in the fall, via an email, that her submission to the Claremont Review had been accepted. She had sent it in as part of her Creative Writing 12 class requirements last school year.
“There were a number of really talented writers in that class,” teacher Jen Wieler says. Throughout the semester, students learn how to peer-edit and workshop their writing amongst the group. Once they each have piece they’re content with, Wieler sends away the lot of them to the editorial board at the Victoria-based publication for consideration. They receive submissions from young creative minds from everywhere in the English-speaking world.
“It’s extremely rare to be published in the Claremont Review,” Wieler says. “It’s pretty stiff competition but she’s a very talented writer. I’m very proud of her.”
The periodical is published twice a year, and runs a small number of poems, prose, plays and artwork from contributors ages 13-19. When Klassen read that email of acceptance, her first reaction was tear-filled.
“I just broke down,” she said. Then, she shared the news with her mom.
“She cried too, and then she cried again when she saw the actual book,” Klassen says. “She’s always supported me, and she’s always read everything I’ve written.”
The icing on the cake was that Klassen even received payment for her efforts, a cheque for $10.
“They pay $10 a page and my piece was short enough to just fit on one page,” she says. “Someone actually paid me for something I love to do.”
But the surprises didn’t stop there.
As a contributor, Klassen received her own copy of the paperback -sized magazine, Issue #46, Fall 2014.
On the front, there’s a close-up, grainy image of an old-fashioned typewriter. But on the back, there is just one excerpt from the publication’s content — Klassen’s.
While she’s thrilled to be published, Klassen is not entirely sure where her studies at UVic in the fall will take her.
“Right now I’m looking at becoming a librarian, but I’m keeping my options wide open when I get to university,” she says. Whatever she does end up doing for a paycheque, she doesn’t plan to stop writing — or reading.
Klassen, now 17, realized very early in life that stories offered an invitation into new worlds, to meet new characters and to explore different ideas. Books were the perfect escape hatch for the young, creative mind. She’s working on reading them all, and quickly. Her favourite authors run the gamut from the wildly-popular young writer Christopher Paulini, to American-horror professional Stephen King, to graphic novelist Neil Gaimon.
This summer, she tackled a few classics, including 1984 and Crime and Punishment.
“It was the light at the end of the tunnel for me,” she says. “To know that there are thousands and thousands of book that I could fall into.”
To learn more about submitting to the Claremont Review, visit www.theclaremontreview.ca.