WALDOBORO—Generation Z, the generation born into a world with vast technological advances, is one of the most tech-savvy populations in the U.S. And Owen Weber, a junior at Medomak Valley H.S. had all of the publishing tools at his disposal when he first conceived of a story that would eventually turn into a novella.
However, the real mark of a writer is not just using internet tools; it comes down to imagination, dedication, and the willingness to go through the process.
Last summer, Weber, 16, had a 2 a.m. epiphany about the characters and typed out down some ideas on the Notes app on his phone.
He began to work out the structure on a computer.
“I started to work on it last summer and got in touch with my English teacher, Ms. Ennamorati, from last year and she started helping me revise it with conflict and more depth to the plot,” he said. “If I were sitting down and thinking about it, nothing would come to me, but when I least expected it, doing chores, great ideas would come to me. A lot of it was just managing the new ideas as they came in and trying to implement them.”
With Ms. Ennamorati’s help on editing, he self-published it through Amazon this past April. Self-publishing takes a whole different skill set, one he said, he figured out for himself.
The title of the novella is The New Civilization of Kaets and the first chapter focuses on a distant narrator, who describes the civilization the way Rod Serling used to open every Twilight Zone episode, foreshadowing the speculative story that was about to unfold.
The first part of the novella is fantasy and the rest focuses on grounded fiction featuring a sixth-grader, Johnny, who struggles with academics and his mother’s perception of him. Without giving away spoilers, the fantasy interweaves back into Johnny’s narrative.
In Weber’s own words: “In short, it is both a story about teamwork/laziness, and realizing that intelligence is not defined strictly by your academic abilities. His worth is not determined by his academic performance and in the end, his mother sees that he has so many other talents.”
Weber, whose legal first name is John Own, points out that this is not an autobiographical novella.
“I just came up with Johnny because then I didn’t have to think of another name,” he joked.
That said, conjuring up the conflict that needed to occur within Johnny, Weber had to do some personal excavation to come up with the dialogue where Johnny’s mother repeatedly expresses disappointment in him. “I hold myself to a really high standard and when I don’t do something quite right, there’s some disappointment,” he said. “I’m a perfectionist, for sure. COVID-19 allowed me to step back a bit and tell myself it’s okay to fall behind this incredibly high bar I set for myself. I just try not to let it take over.”
The main theme of the novella is that for a teenager, there are more interests than just school that society should hold equally in high regard.
“There are more parts of intelligence than math, science, and reading,” he said. “I see it in P.E. Kids who might not be doing great in school are just killing it out there. Or kids who benefit from doing art.”
Weber, while highly creative in the arts, is also one of those rare people blessed with a propensity toward math and science.
“I’m looking at some colleges right now,” he said. “If I were to pick any school right now, it would be Brown University, in math and statistics.”
Weber is working on a full-length novel next, plotting it out through the old-fashioned notebook.
“This one iss about a protagonist, who is a bad person from birth; but in his journey, realizing that he isn’t as bad as he thought; he can be a good person,” he said. “It plays with the theme that there is a little good in every bad and a little bad in every good.”
To learn more about Weber’s book visit The New Civilization of Kaets.
Hail To The Rad Kids is an ongoing feature highlighting teens in the Midcoast with a special talent or in the arts.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org