Gold For Senior Year

Lillian Soule Wins Scholastic Art and Writing Competition


Angel Huang, Staff Writer

Every year since seventh grade, Senior Lillian Soule would compete in the Scholastic Art and Writing competition, and every year she has progressively improved her writing skills. This year, her last year in the creative writing category, she wins gold for the national contest through her short story Gaea

“This story more encompasses a relationship I had with my mother,” Soule said. “Where we didn’t necessarily communicate on similar wavelengths. Of course, it’s different now because we’ve come to be more open with one another, but when I wrote Gaia, it was to describe my relationship with her as being one of like misunderstanding. In the story, the narrator is the last person on Earth, and is trying to revert the climate crisis and all that, they are completely isolated and on their own. Surrounded by their machines. And one of their machines is named Gaia, which is an allusion to the Greek and Roman goddess of Earth Mother.”

The Scholastic Art & Writing competition carefully considers three core standards: originality, technical skill, and the prevalence of a personal voice. Thus, all submitted works will be held to those values and judged appropriately. 

“My relationship with my mother is being symbolized by the interactions between Gaea,” Soule said. “The robot is very analytical and scientific and does not really understand how humans emote. So, eventually, this collision of opposing ideas leads to the narrator being frustrated and feeling more isolated than ever. There was a time where I thought I was very alone in life and it’s reflected by the narrator, and whenever I tried to seek support or tell somebody about it, namely my mother, she would deny that and say, ‘No you’re not because this is what you’re doing and you’re happy.’”

Besides being inspired by her relationship with her mother, her experience of isolation within quarantine also helped spark her narrative for her story. 

“My relationship with my mom is it’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s very human,” Soule said. “Which is ironic because the story talks about inhumanity like a disconnection between emotions. But our relationship is topsy turvy. I don’t know I just feel like we’ve reached a point in our lives where we can understand each other better, maybe it was through more communication, or maybe it’s because I’ve been doing better, just overall.”

The short story also explores how the lack of a proper support system can impact an individual.

“I didn’t really mind whatever she thought because I was proud of what I did,” Soule said. “I was proud of what I achieved so whatever she thinks she can think, I’m proud of this. I’m proud that like people understood it, and connected with it.”

For her first submission back in seventh grade, Soule submitted a poem and it received silver in the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition.

“I’m growing up as a person, I’m going to learn more words,” Soule said. “But I think for the most part I have become more well-rounded. It used to be that I could do descriptions really well and I sucked at dialogue, but after doing practices I’ve made them more real. I definitely feel like there’s more connection between the characters. My stories used to be kind of robotic. Now that I’ve worked with how people will talk and all that, I think it’s gotten more real.”

Soule reads consistently to help improve her vocabulary for her writing as well as get inspiration. She also does short writing warm-ups in order to improve her writing skills.

“Most of my English teachers have been very responsive and interactive with me when it comes to my writing,” Soule said. “I can think, I think the first count with that was my fifth grade English teacher, I wrote something and she’s like ‘Wow this is really good you should consider being a writer.’ Going into junior high I started writing more. In seventh grade my teacher introduced the Scholastic Writing Competition to me, and ever since then I’ve been doing my own thing with scholastic.” 

Soule is currently taking a dental assistant course in Miller. 

“First and foremost I think anybody can do writing,” Soule said. “It’s like art, if you practice it long enough, you’re going to be good at it. Yes, criticism is definitely something you should be able to take or handle. But I do also feel like that’s really broad because in life you’re going to get criticized a lot for what you do and whatever you put out there. I think just in general, you have to be good at handling criticism and being able to work with it to make yourself and what you make better.”

Soule is considering either majoring in biology or English depending on the school she decides to attend.

“Definitely do what you like,” Soule said. “Do what your passion is and do it to the best of your ability. The same can be said about writing to be honest. Write what you like, whether it be nonfiction, fiction, and everything that falls into those categories. And take time to appreciate the world around you. Because that’s where you’re going to be pulling from. All of my writing personally has aspects of my own life and lives that I’ve heard other people live, you know, sprinkled within it. So pay more attention, be observant, and enjoy yourself. Writing is an incredible way to express what’s going on here to people who might have also experienced it in a similar way, and I think through that connection that you make with your readers, you can build something beautiful.”