Monday, August 20, 2018

Books, Libraries and a New Writing Circle

Last week when I was teaching a workshop on publishing I mentioned that my books have served me well. Over the last eight years, unexpected surprises came along after publishing —people joined our Women’s Writing Circle and together we’ve shared countless stories. My writing workshops thrived through word-of-mouth. Publishing two memoirs and a novel is a journey that leads down many paths.

A writer benefits from sharing his or her work in community and camaraderie with other writers. That I would become an author and lead a writing group was the stuff of dreams—at least for me—and as corny as it sounds, it all came true.

A new journey begins September 11. It's called The Writing Circle at Henrietta Hankin.

For those who live in and around Chester County, please join us from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at the Henrietta Hankin Library in Chester Springs. Writers of all experience levels working in all genres are welcome. More information will become available on the Chester County Library System website. When the library approached me about this, I was honored. My guess is we have a lot of aspiring writers in the community.

I’ve worked with libraries before and it's always a pleasure. At the Lower Providence Community Library, I taught memoir two years in a row. Last Christmas, I taught memoir at Downingtown Library. In June I traveled to Amsterdam, New York and with fellow author Kathy Pooler gave a talk on memoir and family myths at her local library.

Gratefully, the Henrietta Hankin Library has hosted numerous author events over the years for me and the Women’s Writing Circle. The library was also setting for the opening scene in my novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, when Ava and Jay first meet at her author talk and book signing.

Floor-to-ceiling windows offered a view of fields and a rust-colored barn in the distance. A blue pottery urn filled with gold chrysanthemums, a plate of oatmeal raisin cookies and pitcher of lemonade graced a table with white linen cloth. Nice touches by the librarian, Ava thought. She loved libraries. What little community remained seemed possible because of the local library and the small bookstore. 

Of course, our Women's Writing Circle continues to meet the second Saturday of the month at the Hilton Garden Inn. Here is information about our September 8 read around.


And the memories return of rain-soaked streets. A tall skinny thirteen-year-old girl in bright green vinyl raincoat dashes out of the car to escape the downpour. She finds refuge in the library.

A book-filled sanctuary. A pathway to learning about herself and her life, which she had yet to live. Browsing books on wood-paneled shelves. Scanning titles, names of authors. Long tables by windows with views of tulip poplar trees. Sitting down to read. Smelling and feeling the pages. Falling in love with words, sentences, scenes, characters.

Those memories remain with me always. Why?  Libraries and all they conjure are the heart—and the home—of the writer. 

How about you? Can you share memories of your local library?

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