2010 AALL Denver Writer’s Workshop

They came to one of three large round tables, some hesitantly and some randomly.  There were those who knew each other already, some who came to the room together and some who just bolted for the nearest empty seat.  As each table settled into the workshop and began their introductions, the other tables faded into the background.  Focusing inward, the writers and writers-to-be went about the task of getting to know each other better.  They each exposed their own stories, their writing ideas and their ambitions.  They told of their past experiences and current fears.  As they talked, they closed the circles a bit more.  With each new person’s story and each discussion, they leaned in more and more to face each other and to get know the writers around them.

One circle was guided by the experienced voices of Mary Rumsey and Mark Estes.  Expertly and encouragingly, they wove the thread for the circle’s journey to become more confident and diverse writers.  They encouraged the table to discuss where they felt they each were as individual writers and what types of articles they would want to write.  Mary and Mark drew out the fears and barriers to writing that lived within the circle, even if they didn’t realize what was holding them back at the time.  The circle itself found it had experienced newsletter writers, a LexisNexis Call for Papers student winner, librarians who were engaged in, or wanted to be engaged in, writing longer scholarly articles, those that loved to edit and those that really didn’t know what they needed to focus on.  There were some that just had ideas that they wanted, or needed, to get out of themselves and down on paper, but didn’t know where to start.  They talked of many things, from the practical, like knowing your audience and the style of the journal, to the inspirational, such as how to just begin…when that seems like an impossible hurdle.  They closed the circle tighter when they realized that they all had ideas, experience and advice to share.  In return, they found they all needed their colleague’s support, advice and editing.

The table, with the help of Mary and Mark, weaved together a support system and with the exchange of stories and cards, they each discovered what they came for.  They found the other writers they could seek out for advice, editing and encouragement when they went back to their lives.  They were focused on their lone circle; it was only when another table’s raucous laughter overwhelmed the circle’s quiet discussion that all the room’s occupants came rushing back into view.  In that moment, the circle realized it truly was not alone.  Finally, after all the writing advice and true confessions, everyone left the tables.  They were different than when they came, though.  They were circles of writers and they were not alone.

-Marin Dell, JD MLIS MS/MIS

Research Librarian, FSU College of Law Research Center

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