Shared by Tami Gosselin (fourth from right in group photo)
Write Like you Mean It is my favorite place in Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. This writing group meets every week on Thursday mornings in the Main Library on North Tryon Street. It is a safe place to practice the craft of writing, as well as the art of listening to others' writing. Everyone is welcome. The group is led by librarian Pam Turner, and it is based on the book Writing Alone and with Others by Pat Schneider.
There are five affirmations that guide this group:
1. Everyone has a strong, unique voice.
2. Everyone is born with creative genius.
3. Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level.
4. The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem.
5. A writer is someone who writes.
We are always reminded that this is first draft work and that we should focus on what we liked about the work. We are asked to share but not required to, welcome to do the prompts or not do them; it is completely up to each one of us how much we participate.
There is always coffee and water, both cold and hot, and there are usually snacks, chips or cookies or fruit. There is a variety of people that come: all ages, all skin colors, all gender identities; and when we share it is on an even basis that all of us have the same opportunity to speak, listen and be heard. We are all on the same level in the workshop, all participants practicing a craft, sharing our truth, seeking our lesson. I enjoy going because it challenges me. Each week offers different prompts to write about, and they are meant to pull something out of us in a way that we don’t know, so we do the writing we were meant to do without knowing it just by following whatever the prompt stirs inside each of us.
I enjoy this time each week. It is the highlight of my week. Without it, my week feels so much less shiny, because this is my happy place.
Sometimes we have guest speakers, who are usually published authors. They come and talk to us about their book. We can ask questions and they often lead prompts. Those weeks have a different rhythm for me as they are not as sacred. This person may be a virtual stranger, and I am not always ready for, or connect with, their prompts. They don’t always understand the workshop process. And, they don’t write alongside us.
Some weeks there are 30 people, some weeks there are 6. No matter how many people show up, there’s always a sense that who needs to be here is here. The group started in 2016, and is celebrating the 3-year anniversary on February 28, 2019. I have been attending just over a month now, and hope to attend long into the future.