Writing the Southside and Beyond

I started up another writers group in the summer, because as I’ve said before, I believe writing, like drinking, should not be done alone.

The group continues to evolve. It is now called the Indie City Writers and meets on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. at various locations in Hyde Park. We have more than 70 writers on our email list as of December.

So far, we’ve been alternating between a constructive critique group, free writing with optional prompts, readings, and workshops or conversations about writing and publishing topics. It is a place to create, refine, share and learn. For more info, feel free to e-mail me at kbjensen.author (at)gmail.com.

Why do groups like these matter? I believe writing should not be done in a vacuum. Writers need a community on many levels, in the interest of their craft and in the interest of their own well being. Writing can be isolating. You sit and type away or scribble in your notebook. But ultimately it’s an art form that’s meant to be shared. It is a tragic act of madness to spend years crafting a story only to stick it in a drawer and never share it with anyone. Unless the story truly sucks, in which case by all means, hide it or burn it, and pat yourself on the back for learning and getting good practice. Or maybe fix it? Revising and editing also work better when you’ve tried out your material on other human beings. I’m a stronger writer because of the other writers who have helped shape my work.

I’d also like to add that we do have some great resources in the neighborhood already, that we hope to complement.

Just Write Chicago has a wonderful local Meetup group that meets at Bridgeport Coffee at the Hyde Park Art Center at 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. I highly recommend this group. It’s a great way to meet other talented writers and get some work done. You sit and write for most of the time and spend the last half hour chatting about your writing addiction and what you are working on. www.meetup.com/Just-Write-Chicago/events/224674159/

Do Not Submit Chicago has also launched in Hyde Park and several Southside neighborhoods. It’s an extremely supportive venue if you are looking to test out new short stories and get your feet wet for live storytelling. (They discourage people from sharing novel excerpts or poetry.) www.donotsubmitchicago.com/dns-hyde-park.html

The Chicago Storytellers Guild is also in the Hyde Park neighborhood, if you are interested in the art of storytelling and performance. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet but I’ve heard good things. For more info, visit www.storytelling.org/directory/search-results.php?expID=14

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