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Newsletter: 14/10/25: Write Group History

This post is not a newsletter as such, but rather an investigation into our history. It is added here because on this day I asked CL, our previous leader, how and when the Write Group started.

CL led the Write Group for about 28 years before one meeting she announced she was turning over the reins to me. I took those reins and try my best to emulate her great leadership.

This is the short conversation we had about the Write Group‘s history.

Hi CL,

I am writing a brief history of the Write Group for our About page [and here] on our blog. If I remember you started the group in 1972 [see next section]. What can you tell me about its formation and initial conception? I know there were two of you, and I know you were a librarian. Was your co-founder also a librarian? Why did you form the group, and did you have more than the two of you in mind as members?

Thanks,
Shawn

[CL’s response]

Hi Shawn,

Paula Hallett (think that’s spelled right) and I started the group — I can’t even remember how we met, likely she was a library user and i was a library clerk, not the librarian. Paula was rural, she had horses, I think, and did some business or commercial writing — don’t quote me on that. Outside of the group we didn’t socialize. Our purpose was to enjoy the company of other writers, share and learn, encourage and stimulate one another, same as it is today, I imagine. I put an ad in the Merc and we ended up with a nice group of about seven regulars — don’t ask me to recall all their names.

Hope that helps. CL

Newsletter: 16/10/4: RE: Write Group History

Up until this date, I was under the impression that the Write Group began in 1972. CL sent me the following letter questioning that impression.

Our actual starting year may have been 1984, though some research will have to be done to confirm this.

I am glad CL brought the error up. It will be nice to get our history straight.

Hi Shawn,

I appreciate being kept in the Write Group loop and am always impressed with what you’ve done with the group. I may make it out to a meeting one of these days — don’t faint if I show up.

I have to tell you though that your timeline is a bit wonky. I didn’t even move to Tofield until 1983 so couldn’t have started the group in ’72. As to the exact year we did begin, I’m not sure. I’ve always been bad with dates but I think I started Loose ends in ’83 and the group came after that. I also began at the library in the fall of ’83, and later met Paula there so the group came after that. Probably ’84?

Sorry to be so vague. When you begin these casual groups you don’t think about documenting everything. I had to write something about the Write Group for the new Tofield history book, maybe I was more accurate datewise there. The library has a copy if you want to check. No matter when it began you are doing a great job of keeping it alive and I thank you for that.

CL

[My reply]

Hi CL,

Nice to hear from you. You have been missed. And I know a few people, including me, who would welcome your return or even a few visits to the Write Group meetings.

I am glad you are enjoying the online material we have. Several people from our group and many parts of the world have complimented me on it. It does help with the meetings. I am hoping though that it serves our members in their writing endeavours; otherwise, it is a lot of fancy with little function.

Hmm. I remember talking to you about when the Write Group formed. I also emailed you about it, which is where I got the quotes from. So, I am unsure how I got 1972 as the year the group formed. You know of course that now you have to come to at least one of our meetings to clarify the situation. I am certainly up to exchanging all my mentions of 1972 for a more accurate date. You will also have to bring a manuscript of your Tofield history Write Group write-up to read.

It would be nice if you came regularly again though.

Thank you for your pleasant response to my welcome newsletter. You will have to continue to keep us up to date.

I hope you all the continued best with your writing and your health.

Please keep writing,
Shawn

Newsletter: 9/9/23: Write Group History

There were days throughout our club’s history when we were not sure if the Write Group would continue. And others when we tried to associate our club with other clubs and arts in the Tofield area.

Hi gang, September meeting is cancelled. See you all — I hope — on October 28 when we will discuss the future of our little group. If any of you know already whether or not you will be continuing, please let me know by phone or email. I would be sad to see the group fold.

Happy writing! CL

[My reply]

Whoa!

This is drastic news and drastic action. Are we really at the point where we are considering folding, and why? Have we or our meetings stagnated somehow? Are we no longer getting what we need from them and ourselves? If so, what should we do to revitalize our group, our meetings and our writing?

I for one rather enjoy our meetings. I consider them a key social point in my month. It is also nice to see how people are doing with their writing, so maintaining my bearings; and to get my own writing critiqued. Life is pretty busy and in my case work or medical challenges keep me from attending some meetings. But I love writing and always make time to write. I look forward to our meetings and so vote, if votes are being considered, to continue meeting.

Perhaps what we need is more in-community advertising. I discovered our group when I first moved to Tofield through the monthly schedule the Town puts, or put, out. I haven’t seen this monthly schedule in the last two and a half years. Perhaps it is no longer printed. But if it is, we should get our meeting back on it. In addition, we can design a small brochure and display it at the Chamber of Commerce, Town Hall, nature center, library and school (?). Another place to advertise ourselves might be the Town’s web site, http://www.tofieldalberta.ca/. Working with the Town and Gus Buffel, who has been wanting to push and enlarge Tofield arts and the art gallery, we can attach Tofield’s arts — the gallery, painting classes, writing group, quilting classes, et cetera — together to one page or set of pages on the Town site. Perhaps we can get something going with Gus. He has a bit of pull in the Town, and our involvement would help him in his cause. We can also set up a booth or chair at the monthly Town market, beside Gus’s painting booth. Gus recruits quite a few students to his painting classes through this booth, using business cards. Most only attend the first day to try his classes out, but some stay. Word of mouth takes care of the rest.

We should try things to attract more members for our group. As a case in point, I would like to mention that while I lived in Sherwood Park, I wasn’t even aware that the County had a writing group. I went instead to two groups in Edmonton: one at the University and the other somewhere downtown, which I heard about from the University. Very out-of-the-way and inconvenient. I only became aware of the Sherwood Park group here in Tofield when NB mentioned that JB and he also attended that group. Are we distinct or lost in the background?

I think next meeting, we should discuss things we can add or change to our meetings to make them more attractive., effective and addictive. I propose that for October we come up with individual lists of what works for us, what doesn’t work, what we have encountered elsewhere that we might try in our group, and what we want to do or accomplish. I like CL’s notices, the exercises and the readings that we do. What else might we add to our effectiveness and enjoyment? For next month, we might also consider some logos and slogans for our group for possible brochures. Perhaps we can have a brochure contest. The group votes on the best design, or design pieces, for a our group. How hard is it to print off a dozen or so one-sheet brochures? All we need is a design and permission to display.

What is our group called anyway?

A little shocked and just thinking. How about you? What are your thoughts?

Shawn

[CL’s response]

Thank you, Shawn. your enthusiasm is just what we need. I have been ‘leading’ The Write Group — that is our name — since it began and sometimes feel I’ve grown a bit stale. Have always said new ideas etc. are MOST welcome. I don’t want it to fold either, but previously posters around town or ads in the paper have failed to produce, and two people aren’t a group. We need new members along with new ideas. So keep thinking, and we’ll see you in Oct. Meanwhile, you can call or email me at any time if you need someone to bounce ideas off of. (there — an example of great writing!) TTYS CL

[My letter to Gus Buffel, a local painter and arts activist who held workshops in Tofield]

Hi Gus,

I have been thinking a bit about your efforts to spotlight the Arts, particularly local painting, in Tofield. Then today I received this e-mail [above] from CL, who leads the local writing group. I am involved in both your classes and her group. I think there is room for the writing and painting groups to work together toward a common cause.

I am writing you to make you aware of our current status, and would like to propose some collaboration that should benefit and boost both groups.

The writing group still has to decide what it is going to do and what its fate will be. Hopefully, it will survive its current crisis. I was wondering if you would be interested in collaborating to strengthen the position of both arts in Tofield. I am not sure in what form such collaboration would take, but I thought I would put the question forward for consideration.

Thanks,
Shawn

We still have a fluctuating participation rate. We have had eight people attend our meetings some days; I’ve been the only one to turn up others.

Today (June 14, 2016), we are 26 strong, the largest we have ever been. But we have had five or fewer people attend at any one meeting. Still, members express interest, some quite deeply, the group is fun to lead, and I see progress in member accomplishments, so the group continues, persevering to fulfill our vision and mission.

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