Ruby Schultz: Write or wrong

You have brains in your head

You have feet in your shoes

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

— Dr. Seuss,

"Oh the Places You'll Go!"

Ruby Schultz knows her mind, and is not afraid to stand up for herself. She has a passion for writing and music that sometimes overshadows other aspects of her life, including school.

The talented eighth-grader recently received honorable mention in the Letters About Literature Awards, a state and national essay contest sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, explaining how that author's work changed the student's way of thinking about the world or themselves. Oregon's winners and honored students receive cash or gift prizes and are invited to read their winning essays at the state library in Salem.

Katie Anderson, Center for the Book coordinator at the Oregon State Library, explained why Ruby's essay, a letter to Dr. Seuss about "Oh the Places You'll Go!" received an honorable mention.

"It's a great contest. About 53,000 letters were entered nationwide, including 1,137 from Oregon," Anderson said. "We look for essays that are personal, letters that connect the book to the student's life — essays that summarize the book or that don't connect the reader and the book don't get much attention. Ruby's essay was interesting, well-written and personal."

While Schultz's talents don't always translate into good grades, her recent AMS teacher Eric Sandrock says that the young writer shines most when she is true to herself.

"When Ruby writes from the heart, she is a very powerful writer," Sandrock said.

Schultz spoke with the Daily Tidings about her love of writing.

DT: What school do you go to?

RS: I went to Ashland Middle School, but now I'm being home-schooled. I've been doing it about a month, now. School has always been kind of hard for me. It's really hard for me to get good grades and stuff because I don't really like any of the subjects except for writing. I felt like I wasn't really learning anything, so my mom pulled me out.

DT: Will you be home-schooled next year also?

RS: Next year, I'll go to Ashland High School. In middle school, I just felt like I was really ahead of it and I wasn't really getting much out of it, but I think high school will be more up my alley.

DT: What subjects do you like learning about?

RS: Writing is pretty much all I like. My favorite type of writing is writing about what's happening in my life, just getting it all out. Sometimes I turn them into stories, but I don't really write a lot of fiction. I have a notebook that's almost full; I would just write in it during my other classes at AMS.

DT: What do you like to do outside of school?

RS: I sing and play piano, and I just started taking guitar. I also like to write songs. I've been writing my own songs for a long time. I take singing lessons and my friends and I have a band sort of. We get together and record our songs. We have a MySpace music page.

DT: What do you think you want to do when you finish school?

RS: I don't really know what I want to be. I want to be in the music business. Play music, write songs. And I've always wanted to write a book, maybe get it published.

DT: Do you have trouble balancing school and your outside interests?

RS: No. In school, I didn't always do my homework. Homework wasn't always a big priority for me. That's probably why I got bad grades.

DT: Talk about the Letters About Literature contest.

RS: I started freaking out because it was the day before it was due and I didn't have anything. I don't really read a lot. I started thinking about shorter books and thought of Dr. Seuss. I read "Oh the Places You'll Go," and it related to my life a lot. It was really easy to write about it because I related to it. When I found out I won an honorable mention I was really surprised. My writing teacher had told me to take things out, but I liked it the way it was. I didn't change anything. It felt good to do something like that on my own.

DT: Talk about something challenging in your life.

RS: Probably school has been the hardest thing in my life. I've had problems since first-grade. I always felt like I should be a grade higher, all my friends are older and I've never gotten along with my teachers. I've kind of rebelled against all the rules. It's been really hard trying to cope with school and everything about it.

DT: Talk about something you have done that makes you proud.

RS: I'm proud that I always stand up for myself. I don't let people tell me what to do or think. I've gotten in trouble for that a bunch of times, but I'm glad that I stand up for what I believe in. And I'm proud that I won something in the Letters About Literature contest.

DT: Tell us about someone in your family who makes you proud.

RS: I think my whole family for not giving up on me. I can be a pain sometimes. There has been a lot of weird stuff happening in my life and they stick with me and help me through it.

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