Writers group celebrates three decades of wordsmithing

·2 min read

Some might celebrate a 30 year anniversary with a party or a cake. But when your passion is writing, putting pen to paper and creating a collaborative novella seems like a natural fit.

For 30 years, dozens of local authors have sat around the Writers’ BLOC circle, an informal writing group that meets monthly to share stories, seek advice and share their knowledge of where to place and read their work. The group was originally founded by two Port Elgin women, Diana Armstrong and Isabel Sturgeon. As the group grew, it moved from meeting in each other’s homes to local restaurants, the library and the Elgin Lodge.

The group welcomes writers who author stories in all genres, poetry and fiction and non-fiction. Along the way, many lasting friendships have been made.

Back in 2019, at WB’s July meeting, one of the members broached the subject of the group members working together to create a novel. A seed was planted and the group began to set out the parameters of the project. The setting must be local, set in current times and the characters should have enough depth that the story line could unfold in any number of directions.

Each writer would be tasked with picking up the story where the previous writer left off, allowing for maximum creativity. Only one rule was enforced – no killing off another author’s characters.

Members went to work, producing a chapter a month. Even as COVID restrictions limited their ability to meet, the group continued to connect via email until they encountered their final challenge – how to end the story. With seven heads more creative than one, the authors decided that each would write their own end to the story, allowing the reader to choose the ending they like best. N.C.R. was completed and ready for publication, just as WB’s 30th anniversary arrived.

One of the authors, Jean Lagace, said writing in this format presented the challenge of keeping the story in sequence.

“We caught each other’s errors and made sure the story made sense,” said Lagace. “I thought it (the process) was exciting. It was a real challenge for everyone one of us.”

Besides contributing to the content of the story, Lagace painted the painting used as the cover of the book.

Without giving too much of the plot away, the tale centers around the fictitious Campbell farm and the fate of kind-hearted Jenny Hampstead.

At just $10 per copy, the book is perfectly priced as a stocking stuffer or secret Santa gift. Copies can be purchased through any of the authors, at various craft shows and bazaars or via email at writersbloc1991@gmail.com (shipping and handling charges will apply if it is sent by mail). It can also be purchased at Jean’s Gallery of Arts in Tiverton.

Tammy Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent

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