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New Writers Group Commences

May 31, 2017 07:00AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman

Shown at the first meeting (clockwise from left) are Shellie Morin, Myrna Rybczyk, Charmaine Laprise, Eric Onkenhout, Amy Bartelloni, Christine Doyle, Nancy Lamoureux, Walt Unruh, and Mark Seagrave

Many of us have had terrible experiences with writing groups in the past. Perhaps there was an atmosphere of judgment. Perhaps members were jealous of each other and expressed those feelings by being critical of someone’s beginning efforts to express themselves. Regardless of past circumstances people may have experienced, local authors and Bellingham residents Marjorie Turner Hollman and Amy Bartelloni wanted to offer a group in which people would feel safe to experiment, to see if they were able to break through barriers that were keeping them from writing. Hollman is the author of many personal histories and local walking books, and Amy Bartelloni has authored a number of dystopian novels in a young adult series.

The group will meet at the Bellingham Public Library on the second Monday of every month at 6:30 pm, unless there is a holiday; in that case, it will be rescheduled to the following Monday. All types of writing are invited—fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. The ground rules were offered at the beginning of the first meeting—no politics, no gratuitous violence, and please keep erotica at home. Positive comments only are welcome, and only if desired, after each person has shared their writing.

At this first meeting, participants hurried in and settled around tables in the middle of the community room. After getting briefly acquainted with each other, we started with an invitation to simply write for the first ten minutes. Some people had brought writing, but others had brought nothing to share. While participants are invited to attend simply to listen, we wanted to offer everyone a chance to share some writing if they wanted to. The first topic? “First day of class.”

A number of people in the group talked about feeling inadequate, that only people who were English majors could write. They soon learned, however, that very few of us majored in English in college. They also learned that the most important requirement in being a writer is to start writing!

By the end of the first meeting every member had, indeed, shared something they’d written. We heard poetry, one with the standard rhyming scheme; another, free verse. Another member offered a poignant reflection on a marriage gone wrong, while yet another shared sharp dialogue in a brief story; yet another invited us into his world of growing up in the 60s and 70s. Several people read their “first day of class” writing, and these were remarkable in the variety of feelings expressed.

Eight o’clock came much too soon, and we headed out, already looking forward to gathering again in June. This is a group for adults, and signups are requested for writers who want to share their writing. Those who simply would like to listen to what local writers are working on are welcome to attend as well. See you at the library on Monday, June 12, at 6:30 pm.
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