Saturday, January 17, 2009
Writers' Workshop News
I am quite excited about recent developments in our town's little writers' workshop. About eighteen months ago, I spotted a simple notice on the community bulletin board outside our post office -- which is where all of the important town news always is posted as our town is too small for home mail delivery. So basically, everyone in our town troops into the post office each week and the bulletin board just outside the entrance door is where it's "at." This notice was very plain ... just a large black font on white paper, stating that if anyone was interested in starting a writing group, come to the library on such-and-such an evening. I was excited and called Judith, our town's resident writer who has published several volumes of poetry and is co-editor of our monthly newspaper. She was enthusiastic, too, and off we went on a Tuesday night to see what it was all about.
Dave, one of the high school English teachers, was the one starting the group, and we also had a retired junior high teacher, Jess, plus about seven others that first night including Judith and myself. I turned out to be the only non-fiction writer. Dave wrote novels, Jess short stories, Teresa fanciful children's books that she also illustrated. Rachel wrote animal stories, and Judith was working on a three-generational novel as well as poetry and a play. Somehow we "gelled" and settled into monthly meetings in which we took turns reading our work and receiving helpful feedback, noting what we felt was strong but also taking notice of what Jess calls "the speed bumps" that interfered with the piece of writing.
But over time, our numbers dwindled. Dave, Jess, and myself remained constant, but Judith was concentrating on her play and receiving feedback from a playwright. Other people came and went, like Josh and his friend who wrote some amazing sci-fi stories, Jennie who wrote sketches, etc. The idea came up to write a sci-fi novel set in our town and dealing with the huge wildfires that have plagued San Diego County in the past and recently, but unfortunately, it ended up taking too much time from everyone else's projects. I hope that Josh can finish it himself; it's a brilliant premise. Somehow just Dave, Jess, and I were attending, with an occasional extra person now and then. Then Dave wanted to devote more time to his novel, and I offered to keep facilitating the group.
But now we have three recent occurrences that I hope will bring back some who have drifted away and will also draw out other writers or people who would like to learn more about writing. First of all, we officially came under the auspices of the Mountain Empire Creative Arts Council (MECAC). So now we have the support of the full art council, directed by Judith, behind us which makes it far easier to draw in speakers, run workshops, etc.
Secondly, we have a blog just for our Mountain Empire Writers. I hope to be putting up pieces of writing once a week to share with each other, and we can also send our friends and family to the site to read our work. If you also would like to read the work of some local writers, then feel free to check out the blog by clicking here: MECAC Writers' Workshop. Since I am mistress of both the MECAC and the Writers' Workshop, it's easy to keep them updated and on task.
Thirdly, our writing group, with the support of MECAC, is hosting an all-day writing workshop at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center. Dr. Dean Nelson, director of the journalism department at Point Loma Nazarene University, author or co-author of eleven books, and well-published journalist, will be leading us in developing our passion for writing. The workshop will be in February, and you may check either the MECAC or the Writers' Workshop links above if you would like more information. Judith has known Dean for years, and he was my creative writing professor at PLNU. Plus, when I was an adjunct there, he allowed me to share his office since I had early morning classes and his were later. He also facilitates the amazing Writers Symposium by the Sea at PLNU each February which brings in some very well-known Christian writers like Donald Miller, Amy Tan, Philip Yancey, Kathleen Norris, Anne Lamott, etc. Next month Judith and I are going to see Brian McLaren and Christopher Buckley (son of William F. Buckley). So I'm really excited to have Dean come up the mountain and inspire us in our writing.
So I am praying that our little writers' workshop will start to re-blossom, to grow and stretch, and that we will improve as writers and find venues in which to share and publish our work. We'll see how it all goes, but I am thrilled that we have a few happenings going on that may boost us to the next level.