By Erin Stevens
In late February of 2016, I sat in the packed event room at The Local Store for the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild’s first ever craft talk. I remember looking at all the writers and literary-enthusiasts around me, all displaying the same excited expressions on their faces. It was clear that this is what writers in the Chippewa Valley had been waiting for.
It was definitely what I had been waiting for.
After graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 2014, I moved to Minneapolis because it seemed like it could provide what I didn’t think Eau Claire could 一 more job opportunities and better chances at finding a writing community post graduation. Because at the time of my graduation, the writing community in Eau Claire seemed pretty limited to what was found in the creative writing program in the English Department at UWEC. I loved that community dearly, but when I graduated I found that community really no longer applied to me, which left me asking where do I (and my writing) go from here?
While Minneapolis did provide more job opportunities, my expectations for finding a writing community fell flat. Other than one option that proved to be too expensive and not very welcoming, I hadn’t found anything. Even now, four years after my move, I’m still looking.
Luckily, at the time that the Guild was founded, I had a job that brought me to Eau Claire once a week. I made sure my work trips coincided with craft talk/event days. After the craft talks, I’d make the two hour drive back home, inspired by whatever topic was discussed that evening and motivated to work on my writing.
But that summer I got a new job, which was ultimately a good thing, but it meant I wouldn’t be coming to Eau Claire as often. It broke my heart knowing that there was this great new organization that was going to change the game for writers in the Chippewa Valley, and I was going to miss out on being part of it.
That’s where the newsletter comes in. Maybe I couldn’t attend every craft talk, or chat in-person with area writers to pick their brains on various topics, but I could read recaps from the events and read advice from those area writers in the Guild’s newsletter. I, and other Guild members who live outside the Chippewa Valley, could even contribute to that newsletter if I wanted to, adding my voice to the chorus of other writers in the community to remind them that, even though I’m two hours away, I still care deeply about this community.
When BJ asked if I wanted to help him out as editor of the newsletter, I said yes without hesitation. The idea of helping writers stay connected to the Guild - regardless of their geographic location - seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. Plus I like the idea of being able to read articles before they’re published in the newsletter - it makes me feel special.
And you should feel special, too. Because by reading the newsletter, and catching up with old friends, you can remain a vital part of our organization, too--no matter the distance.
So, if you have an idea or you’ve already written the words that you want to share with our community, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to read your work!