The Blank Page
02 Dec 2022
The Highlands Writers Group supports and encourages writers
By BUD KATZ
Photos by CHELSEA CRONKRITE
It is no accident that many who live on the plateau feel a desire to create. As scientists have long understood, awe and creativity go hand-in-hand. As we stand before our beautiful mountains, granite megastructures that will long outlast us, we feel awe, and that awe literally triggers the brain, sending the message that this is a safe place to open your mind and think - which is why you probably realize you have a story to tell. We all do. But most of us will never find the courage to tell it.
For sure, writing has its own alchemy. There is the story, the inspiration behind it, the intended reader, the manner in which the story is told and the voice. These are all very different things, interrelated but independent, and each worthy of individual attention. The actual list is longer – point-of-view, place, pace, mood, genre, dialogue, among others. It is easy to get overwhelmed, which is where the right writer’s group can make all the difference. All artists need a safe place to explore their creativity, and there just so happens to be such a place on the plateau.
No one should be surprised that we enjoy a robust community comprised of people from all over, and from all creative disciplines, at work, enjoying life and engaged in acts of service. We have much to learn from one another, which is what happens when we share our experiences and our work. If you are ready to do just that and you accept that you have a story to tell, read on. You will be glad you did.
Meeting regularly at the Bascom Visual Arts Center in Highlands, is a group called The Highlands Writers Group, not the exceptional painters and potters you’d likely expect, who are also there, but a group of writers who want to share their work and hear yours. Sneak a visit to the Bascom on any of many mid-Tuesday afternoons, and you’ll find assembled anywhere from a handful to an entire gaggle of novelists, short-story writers, essayists, poets, songwriters, memoirists and journalists.
No one currently attending HWG gatherings dates to the group’s actual beginnings, although many current participants, which include both year-round and seasonal residents, have been sharing their work with their fellow scribes and scribblers literally for decades. Our meetings feature readings in response to writing prompts, excerpts from published and, as-yet unpublished work, discussions pertaining to craft and style, along with gentle critique designed to make the writer’s work the best it can be. Animated discussions about writing and related topics can occur at the drop of a hat, or at some other appropriate or inappropriate cliché.
Writer-members of the HWG come in all shapes and sizes, and from all make and manner of geography, cultural background, and/or current and former jobs and careers. We have retired professors, working realtors and retailers, folks from law enforcement and the U.S. military, an airline pilot, a teacher, actors and writers from the world of live theater, a psychiatrist or two, a few journalists … you get the idea. We all share at least one thing: an unbridled passion for placing words and sentences onto a blank page or screen.
When asked about the group, Vanessa Steele, a non-fiction writer, said, “Joining the group has been an experience of laughter, lessons on writing and the enjoyment of a great group of intelligent and funny writers.” Betty Holt agreed and added, “The sessions are very stimulating. It is interesting to be around all types of writing – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, essays and even songwriting.” Patty Andrea addressed the seemingly sacred space of being among writers and commended Bud Katz, the facilitator, for being “hugely supportive of everyone, making it easy to share work.”
There are precious few real rules or regulations associated with membership in the HWG. There are no dues, no tests or formal writing credentials necessary to join. There are no mandatory attendance or participation requirements, although we’d love to hear you read your writing. There are no criteria to have been published, nor do we require any formal writing education or experience. Kindness and politeness are expected, for sure. Support for your fellow members’ efforts is absolutely encouraged.
Anyone interested in learning more is asked to contact Bud Katz, facilitator of the group, at either firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 407-256-6271. You might have to leave a message.
If you’re a writer, or if you would like to become one, or if you’d like to become a better one, or, if you’d simply like to hang out with some neat, creative-type people, all of whom happen to be writers, we’d love to hear from you.
We meet every other Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. at The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts. If you find yourself off the plateau, or are still squeamish about gathering in person, we connect once each month via Zoom.