Meet Inklings Mentor and Drafting Workshop Head Teacher, Sonja Solter! Sonja spent her childhood summers in her mother’s homeland of Finland and traveled the world extensively with her family. She read so voraciously as a child that she once brought over 70 books on a trip. (Her mother is still trying to figure out how that slipped by her).
Sonja graduated with an interdisciplinary degree in Human Biology from Stanford University and has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University. She writes for all age levels and has had a reader published for the educational market. She has also been a Music Together director and teacher, where she especially enjoyed the collaborative improvisation aspect of the program. Sonja lives with her husband and two children in Louisville, CO, and enjoys nature, travel, and yoga. Her debut middle grade novel in verse, When You Know What I Know, is an ILA Honor Book and Colorado Book Award Finalist.
Tell us about when you first knew you were a writer.
In late elementary school, a visiting poet came to my classroom and had us work on a poem. It was the first time I remember the process of writing, enjoying the word choice and making the words come together to create meaning. I remember it as an experience of awe.
What’s something you have learned while mentoring youth writers?
I’ve always had flexible lesson plans, with several directions we could go at different points in the session. But what I’ve learned is that, while it’s great to have that lesson plan, I need to be ready to put that off for another time and go with what is needed in the moment. The best learning and deepening happens when I can be with the youth writer in the moment, and see what’s calling to their writerly mind and heart, whether that’s a confusion waiting for an aha moment or a direction their story is calling them to explore.
Beyond writing books, what is another way you express your creative voice?
I enjoy singing. I used to be a Music Together teacher, and I loved singing, including improvising lyrics. These days, my singing mostly happens in the car!
What are you working on now in your own writing?
A somewhat humorous early chapter book and my first revision of a serious YA novel. They are very different, and I have to be careful with staying in the voice for each one, but going between levels and genres keeps up my creative momentum!
What’s your favorite thing about the Drafting Workshop?
Rather than any of the individual offerings in the program I could talk about, what comes to mind is the overall significance of having a group of writers joining this program and tailoring it to their needs as they make writing a regular, consistent part of their lives. That’s what I’m most proud of about this community and its offerings: how it supports youth writers in taking their writing seriously and learning how to resource themselves, in the midst of busy lives, in prioritizing their writing.
We each have stories to tell.
Plus, our own unique ways of telling them.
That’s why we personalize each mentorship at Society of Young Inklings. Our mentors are professional writers, storytellers, and illustrators who help students understand how they think, learn, and best achieve momentum. Our mentorships are designed for writers ages 8+ who are ready for a challenge.