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.