Are you still thinking about Easter? I am. I can’t walk into a store to grab a pound of ground chuck or pick up a prescription without being tempted by all the half-price candy. In the last couple of weeks leading up to and following the holiday, I have eaten three entire bags of Starburst Jelly Beans. Behind the pantry door. By myself.
In that same time period, I’ve also hinted about this project I’m doing for the Racine Arts Council as part of my tenure as the Writer-In-Residence. This week, I’d like to tell you about it in as much detail as I currently have. My project is to build something the Racine writing scene does not currently have. Not to my knowledge at least. Of course, I’m the kind of person who marvels when a box containing another box–the inner box housing food-grade dye tablets–calls itself an “Easter Egg Kit.” I am also the kind of person who gets really excited upon discovering there is a MAGIC MARKING WAND inside said kit. (It’s a crayon, Julie, just a crayon.) Given these facts, you could say I miss a few things here and there.
But missing things aside, this project I’m building will hopefully be more than just a repackaging of something you already have at home, minus the vinegar. What I’m talking about is a public, daytime* writer’s group. In outlining what this group might include, I’ve considered things such as accessibility and availability, as well as the kinds of things Racine writers might like to see in a group of this sort. Please note: when I say writers, I think not only of my like-minded word-nerds, but of all available brainiacs, students, stay-at-home parents, the mentally ill, homeless, unemployed, kids on summer break, seniors—pretty much anyone and everyone interested in gathering around the idea of words. And what have I come up with so far?
The bit I wrote for the group space application I recently filed with the Racine Public Library summed up the intentions of the group as follows:
“WordPlay invites writers of all genres, backgrounds, levels of education, and experience to come together. Let’s share a time of fun, artistic development, and support. WordPlay is for everyone. Looking for writing prompts to get those creative juices flowing? We’ve got that. Want thoughtful critique to strengthen your style? You can get—and give—that too. Feel that you need a gentle community to keep your writing going? Come on in! Don’t consider yourself to be a “real writer,” but WordPlay sounds like it might be fun anyhow? Join us!”
The vision of WordPlay is to be more than “just” a critique group. This inclusive group will provide a place of inspiration where those who are perhaps not educated in writing or who do not consider themselves to be experienced writers can find a place among writers who are. A place where prompts aren’t scary and misspelled words and scribbles are not a crime, but rather a part of the process. The goal is to equip each member—by turns and where comfortable—to teach and reach, to listen and learn, to share and encourage.
At this point, the plan is to hold the group at the Racine Public Library. However, since the powers that be are still a few weeks out from firming up details on upcoming programming, you, dear readers, possess the opportunity to help shape this group in ways you might not otherwise have. So tell me: What works for you? Do you want to see the group meet at a certain time? On a certain day? Do you have ideas for activities you’d like to see included? Want to make sure a certain segment of the population is reached? Have ideas for reaching that segment? Do you have other thoughts, ideas, plans, or desires for what will one day soon be your group?
I’m super excited about this and hope you are too. If you’d like to share thoughts, questions, or concerns, please leave them in the comments, slap them up on the council’s Facebook page, or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Until next week–at which point all the marshmallow Peeps I’ve hidden in the linen sloset will be gone–
* Racine does have a fantastic nighttime writers’ group for adults. It’s administered by Elkid Alvarez Maldonado and held in Racine Gateway’s Launch Box on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m. If you don’t mind being out at night, you should check it out.