by CVWG Director B.J. Hollars
On a Thursday night in February of 2016, I arrived at the Volume One Gallery half an hour early in anticipation for our first ever craft talk. Titled, “Jump Off the Cliff and Build Your Wings On The Way Down” (an homage to my literary hero, Ray Bradbury), I’d prepared to talk about how our fledgling organization might grow for the good of the community. But the truth was, I had no earthly idea how it might grow. What might we be? I wondered. And how might we do the most good?
Two years later, we’ve found our footing. Not only do we work hard to provide an array of high-impact educational opportunities for residents of the Chippewa Valley, but we also strive to provide support beyond our craft talks, writers retreats, and other regular events. What does that support look like? It comes in many forms. Maybe we’re partnering with other local organizations to expand our shared missions, or maybe we’re providing an outlet for your work by way of Barstow & Grand or our newsletter. The point is: we’re here for you, and we’ll continue to be here for you.
And already, our work is receiving notice. In February, the Guild received more recognition than we could have hoped for. For starters, on February 27 the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild received a proclamation from the City of Eau Claire in recognition for our commitment to the literary arts. “Eau Claire values all the writers who live and work among us because they open our minds to what is familiar and challenge us to understand what is different,” said City Council President Kerry Kincaid. “I am pleased to help elevate the craft to its rightful place among the arts.” And we’re pleased to accept such an honor.
In addition, on February 9, I was extremely humbled to receive a Vanguard Award on behalf of the Guild’s work. Once more, to be abundantly clear: this is your award. Admittedly, my mug (rather embarrassingly) takes up all the air time on the recipient video (who says writing doesn’t make for good film?), but that doesn’t make this award any less yours. For me, it’s a testament to the power of our literary community, and it’s a reminder, too, that people are paying attention.
Now that our organization is a two-year-old, I fully except a lot of crying and temper tantrums in the days ahead. (I imagine I’ll be the one doing both). But on a more serious note, we’re at a point where there’s still so much to look forward to.
On that note, I’m pleased to announce the formation of 6x6, a new reading series to be held right here in the Chippewa Valley. What’s 6x6 mean? It means each reading will feature 6 readers for 6 minutes each. The catch: once you read in the series, you’ll never read in it again. This isn’t meant to be exclusionary. Quite the opposite! We have so many talented writers in this region that we can fill the series again and again and feature new voices every single time.
In short, we’ve already put some great days behind us, but we’ve got plenty more great days ahead. Let’s look forward to the good work (and good writing!) ahead of us.