A horse of another colour

Word count: 424             Reading time: 1-2 minutes  

Early last month I went to borrow a cup of milk and came back with a cow.

By a cup of milk I mean I went in search of an answer to a simple question: where, locally, might a young writer hone her skills and get some encouragement?

Bad news: I couldn’t find such a place. Good news: I found the Lynn Valley Literary Society (LVLS) who, for five years, ran the highly-productive Young Writers’ Club (YWC). When other commitments began to conflict with the dedicated efforts of Peggy Trendell-Jensen and Laura Hoffman, the club went into hiatus. They asked if I’d like to revive it. For months I’d been thinking of ways to give something back to my community, the writing community in particular. I said yes. A nervous yes, but yes all the same.

Of course, before I could do anything, I needed a criminal background check. That was both free (LVLS is a registered non-profit organization) and fast through the local RCMP office. First hurdle cleared.

Then I read some of the work of the YWC members from prior years. Their poetry and stories showed a love of writing, skilful use of language, and good imagination. In other words: real talent.

Next there was the challenge of spreading the word that the YWC was starting up again and I had to decide what my version of the club would offer. I looked at the old format and decided against producing monthly newsletters. The thought of designing, editing, printing, and then trying to sell anthologies was also daunting. Similarly, I was disinclined to assemble large writing kits like the ones given out in past years. As admirable as those projects were, they clearly demanded a lot of administrative time. Too much for one person. An awful lot even for two!

Where did my experience lie? In recent years I’ve taken a number of writing classes. To me the greatest benefits came from:

  • finding a supportive environment in which to explore new ideas and techniques
  • breaking the isolation of writing
  • sharpening the skills of observation
  • working through writer’s block
  • trying creative exercises that help reach through conventional language to gain a fresh perspective on words and meanings

So, once a month, starting November 14th, the YWC will be doing some of those things. My cup of milk has morphed into a large, soft-eyed project that will keep me well-occupied for the months to come.

Have you ever run a young writers’ workshop? What hints or suggestions can you give me?

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Photo by: basmeelker