The Best Writing Club in the USA!

author-at-work-1170x716Big News!  They are going to make a movie about a writer’s club.  They made the movie “The Book Club” staring a host of elderly semi-retired actresses and now they want to make a movie about a writer’s club.  I am volunteering our club.  It is the best writing club in the USA with so many talented writers.

“Poppycock” you say!  “There are hundreds of writing clubs across this country and there are more talented writers than there are spaces on the Times Best Seller list. What makes your writing club the best?”

“Thank you for asking.”

Well for one, our club has the greatest teacher in the entire world.  She is a retired Professor Emeritus (Whatever that means) and you would never (even if you looked high and low) find a better writing teacher.  I will say more about our instructor later and why she is so great.

Now you may not know too much about a writing club or then again, you may think you know a lot.  Perhaps you think you know why someone would join a writing club.  If you are a non-writer, the usual reasons that come to mind are:  Fame, fortune and the power to influence thinking.  These are certainly lofty goals and one that anyone might be forgiven for believing worth pursuing.  They are not our reasons though.  We meet for two hours every week during the best weeks of the year in the mid-west to share our stories and to listen to the stories of others. Our goals are not so egotistical or grandiose as fame and fortune.

What makes a great writing club besides a great instructor?  You could define a writing club by its demographics.  Ours is primarily comprised of elderly retired folks of mixed German and Nordic backgrounds.  Women outnumber men in our club by a three to one ratio.  We are middle class people with about fifty percent of us having a college education.

A more interesting way to define a club is by its type of writers.  I believe we are unique in this area.  Why are we unique?  The answer is simple.  Most of us are too old to give a damn about fame and fortune.  We will probably not live long enough to enjoy any new-found wealth or fame anyway.   Our average age is probably close to 75.

There are three types of writers in our club.  We have nostalgia writers, fiction writers and persuasive writers.  I put myself in the last category.

Nostalgia writers in our club often write stories about memories and friends and relatives that are long gone.  It might be stories about growing up on the farm.  It might be stories about life in the St. Croix valley.  It might be stories about the old school days when there were one room school houses.

Nostalgia writers love to share their bygone days with younger relatives and other people.  The times and days they write about might not interest too many people, but there is little worry about that.  A writer writes for themselves often more than other people.  The accuracy of their memories might also be tainted with the passage of time but often these memories are so funny and colorful that no one in our club really cares about how accurate they are.  Maybe the story happened in 1957 or maybe it was 1947, it really does not make any difference to those of us listening.

The fiction writers in our club delight in telling involved and esoteric stories about themes that came out of their fantasies or some whimsical vision they had.  However, our fiction writers are no starry-eyed idealists.  They are under no illusions that they will make the best sellers list with their stories.  They are also not motivated by fame and fortune.  We have tales of frogs, sheep, goats, aliens and humans who have adventures that you could only dream about.

In the six or so years, that I have belonged to the club, I have heard many fabulous stories of people, animals and events that were totally imaginary.  Sometimes, Carolyn our instructor will give us an assignment like writing about a cow in Norway that prompts our creative powers.  The results are stories written not for the best seller list but to exercise our brains and to employ our imaginations.  Most of these stories will never find their way into publication (excepting our fabulous local paper which weekly features the writings of various club members).  We do not get paid for getting published, but we are more than happy to share our stories with a wider audience.  There may be a Hemingway or J. K Rowling in our club, but no one puts on airs or has pretensions of grandeur.  We leave it up to the Gods to decide who will become immortal.

writing pen

I should tell you about the final group of writers but first, before I forget (It happens quite frequently with age) I want to tell you about Professor Carolyn Wedin, our writing instructor.

Now the typical idea of an English teacher sends shivers down most anyone’s spine who has ever been in school.  Grammar, punctuation, spelling and syntax are enough to make the hardiest soul give up the idea of becoming a writer.  But even worse are critiques such as: “That is shoddy writing, that is the poorest piece of writing I have ever seen or where did you steal those ideas from.”  Destructive comments such as these happen often enough in school to make any normal person hate English and writing.

Carolyn has the unbelievable ability to encourage all of us to keep writing.  She makes each of us think that we are wonderful writers.  She motivates us to be better writers with gentle ideas and suggestions rather than harsh criticism or comparing our work to others.  She seldom ever worries about syntax, grammar, spelling and punctuation.  I have often sat and listened to what I thought was a horrible piece of writing only to hear Carolyn provide ideas for improvement and say little or nothing that would smack of condemnation or disapproval.  I marvel at her patience and endurance and compassion. In the end, Dr. Wedin is teaching us not only to be better writers but also to be better people.  Judge not others less ye be judged yourself.

So now we come to the final and last category of writers in our club.  It is the category I put myself in.  These are the writers who write to persuade others.  The people who think that something they say can make a difference in the world.  We want to change the hearts and minds of people.

Speaking for myself, I write social and political satire with the goal of helping other people to better see and understand the foibles that our culture often pursues.  You may think this is a narcissistic goal or perhaps a naive goal and maybe it is.  One thing is certain.  It will never garner me fame or fortune.   But (you should know by now) that is not why we write.

As any writer will tell you (Paraphrasing the great French National Anthem):

Writers! Form your battalions!

Write On! Write On! Write On!  Write_On_logo

Time for Questions: 

Do you write?  Why not?  Have you ever tried writing?  Would you like to be a famous published writer?  It all starts with your first sentence.

Life is just beginning.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”  — Madeleine L’Engle

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanine
    Aug 24, 2018 @ 07:49:55

    I have always though of writing a book. Who doesn’t think the story of their life would make an interesting read. Well, I feel that my story might be interesting, but to another person it might not be so engrossing. The ability to write an exciting story lies with the author, so it is not just the account of my life and the people who have influenced this tale, but the ability to make it a fascinating read. I think I may have just talked myself into joining a writer’s club. I love the 3 categories you classified in your blog. I would enjoy reading some of the stories written by all of them. Of course I entertain the thought of my first book becoming a best seller and striking oil my first time, but that is not the main reason I would write a book. If it were it would never get written. I do believe that this book wants to be written. 🙂

    Reply

  2. johnpersico
    Aug 24, 2018 @ 11:48:43

    You need to start writing Jeanine. Start with one sentence and go from there. Start with the second sentence of your story and come back and write the first sentence later. It is a lot easier that way.

    Reply

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