When Lower Merion High School's Sean Li and Leo Solga founded the Inspire Club in October 2019, their mission was simply to "inspire" and motivate their classmates to pursue positive goals through the strategic posting of encouraging quotes around campus.
While Li, Solga and fellow club members may have gotten their start sharing the affecting and influential words of others throughout the school, now they are sharing their own words with the world as published authors of Inspire: The Collection – an anthology of fictional works penned by 32 LMHS students exploring the thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears of today's youth.
The ambitious project got its start earlier this year when the eleventh grade duo decided they wanted to extend the club's message of positivity to a wider audience beyond the walls of Lower Merion.
"We were hoping to make a lasting and profound impact on our community and beyond," explained Li. "As interested writers ourselves, we had been searching for a chance to work on a creative writing-related project that allowed us to fully explore the nuances of the literary world. We also knew that there were many talented writers at our school who were only waiting for a chance to demonstrate their gifts and present their stories for others to see."
Li and Solga received an enthusiastic response from classmates with 30 students accepting the invitation to collaborate on the project. Over the next few months, students worked their way through the creative process as they brainstormed and bounced ideas off one another in writer's workshops before ultimately putting pen to paper on their final drafts and editing their pieces. Once all stories were finalized and collected, the pair began to navigate the seemingly convoluted and intimidating publishing process.
"Although the task of publishing a book seemed daunting at first, our team was able to find Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service," said Solga. "It allowed us to submit our book and publish it for free in both Kindle and Paperback formats. The main challenge for us was editing and formatting through hundreds of pages of writing. Luckily, being able to read the inspiring stories that our talented writers contributed took most of the boredom away, and we are glad to say that the end result was well worth the effort."
"Our main goals of creating this book were to make a lasting and inspiring impact on our community and the world; share the voices of these amazing high school students; and reach our common dream of becoming published author," Li added.
"This book was made for everyone to read," continued Solga, "but we especially wish that students around our age will give it a chance. Not only are the quotes inspirational and the stories incredible, the book itself is a testament to the power of dreams and shows that they do indeed come true. Aligning with the purpose of our organization, we hope that this book will root out any seeds of doubt in their minds and plant a sapling full of spirit and inspiration, centered by an unwavering faith in creating their own destiny."
LMHS Authors: Sean Li, Leo Solga, Amy Huang, Leyna Ha, Francesca Froio, Kendall Johnson, Maya Taylor, Nathan Aronson, Maya Genuardi, Anusha Vyas, Sammie Smith, Jackie Munis, Luke Barnett, Nathan Yu, Sophia Schur, Ben Reed, Sam Aronson, Emaan Farooqi, Lila Schwartzberg, Kallista Hachadoorian, Sarem Khan, Damini Babu, Ruby Romano, David Igwe, Jason Harmon, Katrielle Byland, Rose Solga, Viktoria Asay, Benjamin Gabrieliants, Shivesh Dundumalla, Claire Brogan, and Amelie Geers. The cover was designed by Emma Liu and the book was edited by Sean Li and Leo Solga