Pattie Crider has been writing since she was a seventh-grader at Dover Intermediate School. When her teacher assigned her to write in a journal for class, she “just never stopped,” Crider said.
A few decades later, Crider, 42, is a full-time student at York College, majoring in professional writing and minoring in photography and religious studies.
“It’s very liberating to share your thoughts and ideas and stories with other people worldwide,” Crider said.
This past weekend, she was honored at the 2013 Philadelphia Writers’ Conference for her nonfiction essay “The Prison Visit,” which tells the story of juvenile lifer Corey Hollinger. Crider first heard Hollinger’s story — a 16-year-old sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for the murder of Albert Swann — in one of her college classes.
“I wrote him a letter saying I’d learned about him in school,” Crider said. “Well, he wrote back six pages. I realized what an intelligent and kind person he is. It’s such a shame he did such a foolish, devastating, tragic thing when he was a child.”
Crider responded to his letter in early 2012, and in time, Hollinger offered to put her on his visitor list so they could meet in person. This year, Crider entered the resulting essay, a form of which appears on her writing blog, girlboxer1970.com, into the nonfiction contest at the Philly writers’ conference. She won first place.
Held June 7-9, the conference offered workshops, speakers and networking opportunities for new and established authors.
“The whole conference was just an amazing experience,” Crider said. “They kept us busy.”