Chelsea resident discovered at Alabama Writer’s Conclave Conference

Published 5:40 pm Thursday, July 24, 2008

Do you ever shake your head in concern, disdain at today’s youth culture? Don’t worry. With an optimistic eye, look around. There are lots of young people with character. I discovered one – a Chelsea resident – at the Alabama Writer’s Conclave Conference, a group organized in 1923, the oldest continuing writer’s organization in the US.

Long before the crowd of more than a hundred writers gathered for this annual conference, held on campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, April Stotler arrived – animated, drawing others to her vivacity.

Clearly, she’s a college student, I mused in envy of youth. Before our conversation, I had no idea that 20-year-old Stotler equaled, if not surpassed, wisdom reflected by some more-seasoned folks who gathered.

Faculty for this conference included Stephen King’s first editor, Alabama’s Poet Laureate and Writer-in-Residence, plus several successful authors. Writer conferees were a broad spectrum of ages and experience: doctors, lawyers, a scientist from the Polar Star ice-breaker, college professors, an air traffic controller from Newfoundland, and April Stotler — a University of Montevallo student who plans to teach history and English and who writes as a pastime.

During a short break from fiction workshops, April and I sat down to chat.

Sherrer: “Tell me about your writing, April.”

Stotler: “I’ve been writing stories since the fourth grade. It’s something I must do for myself, my well-being. I believe, in a sense, writing (stories for others to read) brings immortality to the writer.”

Sherrer: “Patience, optimism… valuable traits for a writer?”

Stotler: “Very much so. Writers are heroic because they never give up.”

Sherrer: “What are some important issues for your generation to consider?”

Stotler: “People need to think for themselves. Many are too gullible, believe everything the media hands them and never search for truth. We must remember that knowledge is power and remember our nation’s history. Writing exercises our freedom of speech. We mustn’t forget people like Thomas Payne.”

One can really feel optimistic about the future, having someone with these values, soon to teach our children and grandchildren. Perhaps, we should consider young people as bank accounts. What we put in is what we hope to get out. Look around, with a non-judgmental attitude for a child in which to instill life purpose, infuse hope and bring stability. After all, a nation’s youth is its truest treasure.