Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - December 10, 2010

About the author: Caitlin Colvin

Castilleja student Caitlin Colvin built her story "Monday" from a writing prompt that her Sophomore English teacher, Rebecca Sherouse, assigned.

"The assignment was to write about running water," Colvin said. "I picked tears because they can have so many different meanings."

"In the first vignette, I wrote about the little boy's tears, and I built on that to write the rest of the pieces."

This year's Palo Alto Short Story Contest winner in the Young Adult category, Colvin, now a junior, was convinced to submit her story by her parents.

She only made one change in editing the story for the contest but it was a large one: The original story connected each character to the others.

"I thought it would be more powerful if they didn't have meaningful connections to one another," she said.

Colvin focused on writing telling details about her characters. A motif running through her work is contrast, both between characters and inside the experience of each individual person.

"In general, each story contradicts the others, and so I thought it would be interesting to have the characters be contradicting themselves."

She added that some of the characters simultaneously experience two emotions.

"For this story, I wanted to create a diverse spectrum of characters to show that on any certain Monday, even in one community, people are having such completely different experiences based on their circumstances," Colvin said.

"Behind closed doors, you can never really know what's going on."

In addition to writing, Colvin is on the Palo Alto Youth Council and the JSA (a student debate organization), does relays and high jumping for the school's track team, and has played soccer competitively since the fourth grade.

She said she's looking forward to an upcoming school trip to China, as well as the solace of winter vacation.

"With winter break coming up I can read what I want, and it won't be required reading that I have to annotate," Colvin said.

— Sarah Trauben

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