Freelancing the Light Fantastic

From juvenilia to juvenile author, junior Ann Pedtke builds up a record of publications

If there's one lesson writer Ann Pedtke has learned, it's this: "There's no failure in getting a rejection. The only failure is in not submitting your work."

At the tender age of nineteen, when many young writers have yet to screw up the courage to show any work to editors, Pedtke has experienced not only the disappointment of the rejection slip but also the elation of acceptances and the satisfaction of earning a paycheck for her poetry, fiction, and essays. More than a published author, already as a junior in college she's a professional. And her success began before ever arriving at Kenyon.

Recognition of Pedtke's literary gifts started early. She racked up a string of publications in Stone Soup, a literary magazine featuring the work of young writers aged eight to thirteen. As a home-schooled high-schooler, she began submitting her fiction and poetry to Cricket magazine, a high-quality publication with a readership of tweens and young teens; most of the magazine's contributors are adults with lengthy careers behind them. After several failed attempts, Pedtke eventually had a poem accepted for publication in the magazine--the first of a number of Cricket publications--and earnings followed.

"A Lunar Lament," a poem written in the voice of the moon and published by Cricket in 2004, recently appeared as a text in the 2007 New York State Grade 6 English Language Arts Test. Sixth graders were asked to answer questions about the lyric's stanzaic pattern, theme, language, and meaning.

Rewards have arrived from sources other than juvenile publishing. Just last year, Pedtke placed first among all college undergraduates and graduate students in the 2006 Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest sponsored by the Ayn Rand Institute. Her winning entry earned a hefty prize of five thousand dollars and was published on the Institute's website.

Cricket has been so impressed with Pedtke, now something of a regular contributor, that its parent company offered her a rare paid internship in its Chicago offices this past summer. "Even though the stipend was just enough to cover my housing and expenses, it's a feather in my cap and may lead to other opportunities down the road," says Pedtke, who intends someday to make a living as a freelance writer.

A junior majoring in English and classics, Pedtke is currently in England as a participant in the Kenyon-Exeter study-abroad program. Her absence is felt in Gambier, where she spent her first two years as an active community member. Literary pursuits claim a portion of her extracurricular time--no surprise there. She's one of three student leaders of the Kenyon Poets Society as well as an editor of Hika. She also helped organize a classics scavenger hunt last year as a member of the classics advisory group. But her involvement in organizations goes beyond her academic interests. She plays soccer and was glimpsed last year in the pages of the Bulletin as a member of the Kenyon Jugglers. Pedtke also helped form the Book Explorers at the Gambier Community Center, a program to promote love of literature among local elementary-school students. She performed a stint helping with Katrina clean-up in New Orleans as an Ohio Action volunteer. A nature lover, she enjoys the Kokosing Gap Trail and is a fairly accomplished tree-climber.

But no matter how busy these pursuits may keep her, she sets aside time for writing daily. "In 2000, to honor the millennium, I started a poetry journal. I've written a poem for every day since then," she says. With that much practice, discipline, and drive, she's well on her way to achieving her dream of the writing life.

--Amy Blumenthal

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