Writing In Community: Generational Traditions

Writing In Community: Generational Traditions

In keeping with Reverend Karen’s theme of “Generations,” I suggested we write about family traditions in last month’s Writing in Community session.

But I tried to put a little spin on it. Well, a lot of spin, actually.

I didn’t want us all to write about Mother’s Day just because it was Mother’s Day. Nor did I want to exclude anyone who, perhaps, had negative feelings about family tradition.

Nor did I in any way want to exclude people who had families that were not based on kinship but, rather, on friendship.

I also wanted to encourage us to choose new traditions we had started recently in our own families, traditions that we missed from the past, and the general idea of what it means to have or not have family traditions.

This degree of freedom, even when it’s unconventional, is something new I’m bringing to Writing in Community.

I want people to understand and be inspired by the largest possible number of perspectives they might take in their writing.

I also want to point out one thing that few of us ever think about: We can easily generate 10, 20, or even more short pieces of writing on the same topic if we think just a bit about different perspectives on that topic or different angles on it as journalists like to say.

Needless to say, the writing in the group was spectacular yet again. In just 5-10 minutes of writing, several people finished excellent drafts of complete pieces and several more crafted promising beginnings.

As we finished up this time, I thought about something and pitched it to the group.

Would anyone want to have two-hour Sunday sessions at some point specifically to polish a truly finished piece and then have that piece included as one of many in a published volume?

I mean a real published book: with editing, proofreading, professional production, and its own spot on Amazon.

This is not a fundraising opportunity for the church, and I would actually argue against it becoming one. (Although I do have fundraising ideas about similar projects.)

My purpose in making this happen is two-fold:

  1. To allow anyone in the church to become a professional published writer through our activities in the Writing in Community group.
  2. To engage the congregation in what we are doing in Writing in Community–if not as writers, then as readers.

This is also a nifty and incredibly affordable approach to give away many copies of our work in a final, published, and professional format to others in our congregation.

For example, the work of 12 people in one of our group sessions, even if each person decided to contribute 2 pieces, would cost us only about $2.50 a copy—at our “author” price—to give to our church community.

I, personally, would be happy to contribute $50 toward the purchase of 20 copies for the church library. The copies are so cheap that people who want them can just take them home.

If we held one of these “extended” Writing in Community sessions, perhaps once a quarter, we’d publish four books yearly. What a neat thing to give to our community and the perfect way to introduce others to what we do.

As I try to figure out the logistics of doing this, I’d like to first gauge our collective level of enthusiasm. To participate would seem to require the following:

  1. A few normal sessions with our Writing in Community group just to get a handle on our process and what it feels like to share your thoughts and feelings in writing with other church members.
  2. Your willingness to commit to just a little more time than usual to produce a piece of finished work suitable for inclusion in a fully professional publication for our church. About two hours of “work” time in a Sunday session followed up by however much it takes you to type up your work. (Most pieces will be less than 500 words.)
  3. Your comfort with being edited by a professional. (That would be me.) And your willingness to make, or allow me to make, small changes in your work—always approvable by you, of course.
  4. Your willingness to relinquish your copyright—for non-commercial publication by the church only—so that your work could be included in the book and on the church website.

Finally, though everyone in our group was excited about this, I haven’t discussed it with Reverend Karen, Diane, or likely the board, so I’m not quite ready to jump into it.

I am, however, eager to see how ready you are so I can begin putting some parameters around this project and see what resources I will need to bring to it to make it work.

To share your feedback about this idea, you can email me directly at stevepeha@gmail.com.

I’d truly like to know what you think of this idea and whether and how you’d like to participate.

Based on our last year or so of writing sessions, it would seem that most of us can produce a very nice polished piece in 30 minutes or less in a single 2-hour session with a 15-minute break in the middle.

Your only other commitment would involve submitting your writing to me in Google document (you can use Word, too) that I believe Karen R. can set up for us so we can all be in the same “place” together as we “work the work” along the path to publishing.

I hope to hear from you soon. And I hope, as well, to see you in our group. Writing in Community meets from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM on the second Sunday of every month.