NORWICH — The Chenango Writers’ Association, a brand new club for writers, is seeking new members.
The group held its first meeting on Thursday, January 19, and going forward they will meet at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Guernsey Memorial Library in Norwich.
The club was started by Leon Hartwell, a local writer who was looking for a workshop-style class. Finding none in the area, he teamed up with Guernsey Library Board Member Leah Mealing and pitched the idea to Guernsey Library Director Connie Dalrymple, who Hartwell said "was all for it."
The Chenango Writers’ Association will focus mainly on creative writing such as fiction, screenplay writing, and poetry, and will serve as a space where local writers can share their work, receive feedback, and learn other facets of the writing world, from story themes to literary greats to publishing.
However, Hartwell said he wants the club to be a reflection of members' interests, as well as an organic flow of topics and themes from month to month.
"I want everyone’s feedback and I want to be able to explore interests that everybody has. I thought maybe if we meet once a month, each month we could talk about a different theme," he said. "Leah [Mealing] already mentioned Thoreau, and so I was brushing up on some of his stuff and thought that could be one of the first discussions that we had, and hopefully by the end of it as a group we could pick up a new topic for the next month."
Another hope is to allow members to share their expertise in certain areas of writing, as well as bring in local authors to share their own bits of wisdom.
"I have one author friend who I’ve asked to speak, so that could be another direction that we go into, to hear from folks who have actually been published. Not saying that there won’t be other people there who have been published, but I’ve only self-published,” said Hartwell.
Most importantly, though, Hartwell said he wants the group to be a welcoming and supportive atmosphere, where writers feel comfortable sharing their work with other members.
"I imagine there’s more than a few folks in this area who have a talent and a knack for writing, and if any of them are anything like me, I’m more introverted, so I struggle sometimes with the social aspect of it," he explained. "But I feel this could be a place for folks who are more introverted too to share their stuff and not feel nervous about it."
"It tends to be a pretty personal thing sometimes," he added. "But if we want to be better writers, speaking for myself, I need to listen to other people."
That being said, writers who don't want to share their work are still welcome to join the club. Hartwell said he doesn't want members to feel pressured to share, and instead they are welcome to listen, provide feedback, and learn all they can from the group.
"An assumption that I shouldn’t make is if you come to the group, you want to share your writing. But I guess I probably shouldn’t assume that," said Hartwell. "I don’t want anyone to ever feel pressured or like they have to [share]. Maybe someone comes and just wants to listen."
Ultimately, the Chenango Writers’ Association will serve as a space for writers to write. Hartwell said as an author it's easy to give up on pieces or succumb to writer's block. He hopes the club will help to keep each other accountable and consistently working on their writing.
"Writing creatively is work. It’s really hard work," said Hartwell. "I get demotivated, I guess. So everything will be fine, and then like if I’m writing a short story I’ll inevitably get to this point where I can’t figure out what to do next, and having people to help me with that would be great."
Currently, the Chenango Writers’ Association has four members. The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 16 at the Guernsey Memorial Library, and Hartwell said anyone interested in checking out the club or joining are welcome to attend.
For more information on the Chenango Writers’ Association, contact Leon Hartwell at firstname.lastname@example.org.