It takes a village

WritefestOff the congested Houston I-10 freeway and down Taylor to Winter Street, there stands a series of refurbished warehouses, now home to resident artists and craftsmen. With the Mahatma rice silos towering overhead, this complex consists of Winter Street Studio, Silver Street studios, and the Silos at Sawyer Yards. Nearby are independently owned shops, restaurants, and the Holler Brewery. The area crackles with creativity, expression, individuality.

A perfect place to write.

Writefest—a weeklong series of lectures, workshops, and panels, culminated in a May weekend event staged at Winter Street Studios. The location fit, since Writespace, one of the two organizers of the event, is located at the neighboring Silver Street building. The other partner, the Houston Writers Guild, is no stranger to these events, having held writer/agent and independent writer conferences in past years.

These events are wonderful experiences for the writing community and certainly are not exclusive to this city. The Writers League of Texas will be holding its 2018 editors and agency conference at the end of June. Other cities have their own organizations, sponsoring similar events, and that does not take into the account the breakdown into the groups that center on specific genres.

There is no need to detail the activities, since they are so well covered by the hosting organizations, although the key points are in learning, the practice of the craft, and exposure to key people who make the industry work. I attended the weekend activities—not my first rodeo, nor will it be my last. If you’ve not yet been to one, you owe yourself.

My biggest takeaway from Writefest is that of community. It takes a village, so the saying goes, and while writing is a solitary practice, it is also best when shared, especially with like the minded. During the week, fellow writers conversed and communed, told of experiences and stories (real life as well as fictional), and bonded with their common interests. New friendships were formed, while existing ones found reinforcement. As I said, community. It doesn’t get better than that.

This is likewise a key in critique circles, a lifeline to any aspiring writer. I have been active in one for years, and have found it to vastly improve my skills in writing, speaking, critiquing, and basic honesty for others (something the world can use a bit more of nowadays). It’s a give and take, where everyone wins.

Words are put on the page in order to be read. This we do in the hopes that what we have to say will contribute to community—not only our own tribe but also a larger whole. And then, when all is said and done, we can withdraw to our corner and write something else.

So the circle continues.

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