Fluvanna writers celebrate 10 years

Fluvanna writers celebrate 10 years

By Page H. Gifford, correspondent

Every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. a small group gathers near the far corner of Cuppa Joe’s Cafe to talk about writing and read their current work. It is a mixed group of published writers and wannabe writers, but the Writers Group of Fluvanna welcomes anyone interested in writing, published or not.

“It was 10 years ago on May 1, 2008, that Robert Agee and I began meeting at the Fork Union Community Center,” said founder Curtis Putnam. “This was the beginning of the Writers Group of Fluvanna County. It earned that name sometime later when we were meeting in the Fluvanna County Library.” During that time few knew the group existed.

“I remember it well, seeing Curtis in a dark corner of the room, wanting to read me poetry,” said Robert Agee, who used to write science fiction but left the group about four years ago. Agee moved away from the area but keeps in touch and Putnam stops by to hear what the writers are working on and to sometimes participate. Leslie Truex has taken on the lead, welcoming newcomers and keeping the name out there.

In the early days, there were about a dozen participants writing a variety of material, including mystery, romance, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, literary novels and poetry. Truex, who is known for her romance and mysteries, will soon be releasing her first cozy mystery in February. Truex also writes non-fiction books and articles. Another member, a freelance writer, is working on a cozy mystery as well, and has been with the group for 10 years. She has found the group very supportive and admitted she couldn’t have gotten this far with the book without their insight.

Putnam just published his book of poems. Sue Mink writes a travel blog, is a freelance writer, and is working on historical fiction. New to the group is Warren Wayne, a former teacher who self-published his first book and is working on a sequel. Megan Pressley Harris is the youngest member, who loves writing, enjoys the group and says it’s fun.

Much has been written about the pros and cons of writing groups. The ones who appear to be more successful are those similar to Writers Group of Fluvanna. It has dwindled to a small core group and they all have related skills but different strengths, styles and genres.

With all writing groups, critiquing is the cornerstone of what they do. This group is neither brutally honest nor excessively sweet in their critiques. This helps the writer to see things that might otherwise not be clear to the listener or reader. The writers will bring about a 1,500-word piece – maybe a short chapter, short story, essay or poem – and the members critique it with an open mind, asking questions that help the writer revise and take the next step in the story.

Familiar with navigating the writing process, the members help by discussing the selection more than simply critiquing. When done well, critiquing aids writers in gaining insight into their work. Many agree it is instrumental in making their writing clearer and less confusing. When writers are too attached to their work to be objective, a gentle but honest critique can help clear the way for growth and make the work better.

For this reason, the group is a spawning ground for creative thinking. Often when a member, such as Truex, has a problem figuring out a part of the puzzle in her mystery, the others will come up with ideas or suggestions for research. One member was so discouraged she almost threw her book out when Truex and Mink convinced her not to, saying they would assist her through the process. Their encouragement made a difference in the writer’s decision to continue to revise the book and get it finished.

For more information about the Writers Group of Fluvanna, join it on Facebook or e-mail Truex at leslietruex@gmail.com.

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