For several years, I had to travel outside of my home city to find a writing community. The situation prompted me to explore ways to connect with and bring together local writers.
For my first effort, I advertised through the local library for fellow writers interested in forming a critique group, and Maple Ridge Writers (a monthly group that met for ten years) was the result.
I also looked to what worked in other lower mainland communities. In particular, the late Ed Griffin’s work developing a writing community in Surrey inspired me.
Around that time, I met Andrea Walker at Women’s AM and she introduced me to Ronda Payne. The three of us shared a vision of creating a supportive writing community, and in the fall of 2010 Golden Ears Writers was born.
Initially, we organized a weekly drop-in critique group.
The following year, the ACT Theatre offered us a “lobby night” slot on the third Tuesday of every month except July and August. We meet from 7-9pm.
Ed Griffin provided tips on community building and suggested our first event—a jamboree-style evening for writers to meet and network.
For the first few months, Andrea, Ronda and I created much of the programming and worked to build awareness and attendance. We twisted the arms of writing friends, asking them to come out and present on a writing topic.
Soon writers were approaching us with offers to present and our attendance grew to a respectable 25 to 50 writers each month, depending on the topic.
The lobby of The ACT Maple Ridge is an ideal venue. It’s spacious and welcoming. The theatre sets up the space to suit our needs and opens the concession/bar for our events.
Eight meetings a year are devoted to talks and workshops on topics of interest to writers, including titles like: Social Media for Writers; Persuasive Writing; The Editing Process; Writing Fast Fiction; Literary Magazines; Writing Memoir; Garden Writing; Health and Fitness for Creative People; Speculative Fiction; Running a Successful Kickstarter; and many more. Our presenters have included Julie Ferguson, Annette LeBox, Cathy Ace, Susan Pieters, Sandra Wickham, Lesley Cameron, Ace Baker, Debra Purdy-Kong, Lynn Easton, Jenn Landels, Denise Jaden, Roxanne Snopek, and D.R. Graham, to name a few.
We devote two sessions a year to ten-minute readings by local writers. Many non-writing community members attend the holiday readings in December. The lobby of the ACT is decorated with lights, a two-story tall Christmas tree and a seasonal fireplace.
This is the sixth season for Golden Ears Writers lobby nights at the ACT. Ronda and I continue as the main organizers. Christine Grimard and others step up to give us a hand when needed.
We’ve added a two-night Ghost Story Writing Retreat at UBC’s Loon Lake Lodge in November.
Writers join us from across the lower mainland. We are an adult group, but some events are suitable for older teens (please check with us first). There is no charge to attend lobby nights, and lots of low-cost parking is available under the venue. Information about upcoming workshops and events can be found on our Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/GoldenEarsWriters . We also send out a once-a-month email newsletter. To add your name to the list, contact me at citizen <at> shaw <dot> ca
(This blog post was originally written for the Creative Ink Festival blog. Golden Ears Writers is a sponsor of the event)