Here at Seven Bridge, we've all heard that question occasionally. The answer is yes, and then some.
This is what's available, much of it free: writing groups for all levels of writers, including beginners, critique sessions for advanced writers, author visits, writing/publishing workshops, communion with fellow writers, who offer input and inspiration, writing resources, on line and available in Thayer Memorial Library's increasing craft book collection.
So what is this "serious" question all about? A hesitation to step out of one's comfort zone? A fear of criticism (it's there if you want it, absent if you don't)? Lack of time? The first time is always the toughest, but newbies assure us it's one of the best steps they've ever taken.
The founding members of this collaborative are all, by definition, serious writers. We work and receive compensation for our efforts outside of the group. We are novelists, short story writers, essayists, journalists, free-lance writers. Everything we do here, however, is voluntary—and has been since the start. We have no doubts about this being a valuable way to spend our time. To write well, one must be open to all kinds of writing and writers, willing to give as well as take, and—above all—engaged in the regular practice of writing.
I lead one group—the Tuesday morning writers—and welcome writers at every level. We have a terrific blend of beginners, memoir writers, a screen play writer, nonfiction writers and novelists. Those with projects ready for serious, criticism join the critique group, which meets monthly to explore the good and "no so—" of each other's writing. The benefits are huge, and should be a part of any writer's process before going near publication. And it's offered free, unlike the more expensive, editors for hire (though we can find those for you too).
Our monthly workshop sessions offer a hearty mélange of craft work (we all need it), inspiration and information for all writers throughout the central Massachusetts region and beyond.
I believe defining oneself as too serious a writer for participation in a writers' group is a huge mistake for any writer to make. We are a growing community of wordsmiths, fascinated by the idea of translating the world into a form others can access.
And don't forget the Open House from 3-5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 13. It'll provide a chance to meet other writers and the workshop leaders. The reception is being held in the Church Hall behind First Church of Christ UU, next to the Thayer library on the Town Common in Lancaster.
We do laugh a lot. But serious? Absolutely.
Ann Connery Frantz is a cofounder of the Seven Bridge Writers Collaborative in Lancaster, and a retired journalist turned freelance fiction and nonfiction writer and editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.