When I was 14, I wrote a very short story (an impression really) about what a soldier lying in a foxhole might think about; and when I showed it to my father, he said: "That is exactly the way it was." Without hesitation, I sent it to "American Girl" for their monthly short story contest for its young readers. And it won the Nonfiction award. That was a happy occasion, but really what made it more special was this letter I received from the President of the National League of American Pen Women. I lived in Ft. Myers, FL and she lived in Miami (a 4 hour drive to the other coast from my home), and yet she somehow found the brief announcement in the Ft. Myers News-Press--and wrote me this thoughtful, lovely letter of congratulations.
I looked up the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW), and they are very much alive and well if you'd like to check that organization out at http://www.nlapw.org/: "Linking Creative Women Since 1897."
The letter reads:
Congratulations on your writing award. And welcome to the ranks of the non-fiction writers!
You seem to have learned at a very young age two of the important lessons that a lot of would-be adult writers never grasp: If you want to be a writer, you must write, write, write; and you must have the courage to mail it somewhere. I hope you will continue to write and to mail...and to win awards and make sales the rest of your life.
I am enclosing a spare clipping about your award, in case you need it for your scrapbook.
Again, congratulations and my very best wishes for your future.
Nell L. Weidenbach (Mrs. M.J.)
Nat'l. League of American Pen Women