Friday, July 31, 2009

A Right Time for Everything, Guest Blog by Pat Irwin Lycett

I’ve been writing all my life, never with a view to publishing (still don’t, except in newspapers, usually letters to the editor).

Three years ago I read about the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region in the Oshawa paper; tried the number listed, to no avail, gave up for a number of reasons. One year later, in May, I came across the number again and made contact. There really is a right time for everything!

In July, same year, WCDR announced that Fred Ford was planning a Wednesday night class, Writing Is Hard Work (WIHW), to be held every second Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:45 at the Pickering Library. We began meeting in September. There were about twelve of us, some poets, most writing fiction; that lasted until Christmas, when a few melted away. Some new folks were added from a waiting list, and we’re now finishing our second year with a tight group of seven, including Fred. We’ve grown quite close, and we love one another’s fictional characters.

I discovered after about eight months in class that I was actually interested in memoir, and joined Allyson Latta’s eye-opening North York Central Library four-week workshop series. It was well worth my drive to Toronto.

For our bi-weekly Pickering class, three members e-mail a chapter, usually by the prior Wednesday, for discussion the following week. We critique in writing at home, then present our comments in the group, and end the evening by handing across heavily-marked written material.

With a total of seven people, it can make a rather light evening if two of our group are unable to come; so the move for this fall is to accept perhaps two to three new people into the fold, and Fred is presently interviewing new candidates. I am the only one writing memoir, and adding a new memoirist has been ruled out by the group! They would be interested in adding a writer of town history, perhaps, just to add balance. Many of us occasionally submit poetry, one writes travelogues, most are working on The Great Novel; the age range of our group is 40 to 72.

Learning to write my memoirs has been a gradual process, coupled with my planning what turned out to be a well-attended family reunion, held last August in Orono. While in the process of reunion planning, I chanced upon my mother’s old family history, which really started the ball rolling. I’m now pretty dedicated, trying all sorts of techniques – a train ride has been suggested – and themes to carry the memoir through.

In the group we’re all free with our opinions, and we don’t always agree with Fred, but he is the leader, and he’s pretty good. Writing groups can have many varied formats, and I consider myself lucky that I landed in this one, as I needed a group with some structure.

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