SPECIAL PROJECT - The Red Deer and District Writers’ Group known as Writers’ Ink is marking its 25th anniversary this year. To celebrate this milestone, members have compiled a 25th anniversary edition anthology called Write On, Canada! From left are the organization’s treasurer Lyle Lustgarten, Tara O’Donnell of the City of Red Deer, Patricia Mary O’Neill, president of Writers’ Ink; author Danielle Q. Lee and Andy Lidstone, chair of the anthology committee. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

Writers’ Ink celebrates Canada’s birthday with words

Local group encourages writers to share ideas and hone their skills

There is nothing quite as enjoyable as being with a group of like-minded individuals who share your passion for a particular craft.

That’s pretty much the sentiment around the table for the Red Deer and District Writers’ Group known as Writers’ Ink which is marking its 25th anniversary this year.

And to celebrate this remarkable milestone, members have compiled a 25th anniversary edition anthology called Write On, Canada!

The book, consisting of a fascinating range of stories from club members, was officially launched during the Canada Day celebrations at Bower Ponds.

This compilation is also a celebration of Canada, from Newfoundland to Tofino and points in between, said Patricia Mary O’Neill, president of Writers’ Ink during a recent interview. These stories and poems indeed represent memories of time and place, she noted.

“We’re pretty excited – we’ve worked on anthologies before, and certainly we realized that this is our 25th anniversary and Canada’s 150th birthday. So it had to be all Canada-related. We wrote stories or poems that featured Canada in them,” she explained, adding that it was back around March that members talked about doing an anthology along these creative lines.

The 25-year mark for Writers’ Ink is also very special to members.

“It speaks to the dedication of the people who are involved,” she said. “We have that tendency to gravitate to others who write, because people who don’t write don’t sometimes understand that need that we have to tell the stories that are floating around inside of us.”

In the book, readers will learn about a member who, as a teenager, was tasked with the responsibility of taking care of a group of youngsters on their cross-Canada trip to Expo ’67 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday.

They will also meet a former teacher who tells about his harrowing ride in his unreliable car in the middle of B.C. when he was a young man, noted a release.

Readers will also reminisce with another writer when she describes what she misses about small town life, and talented poets will take folks on other image-rich journeys as well.

As O’Neill pointed out, she recalls a fascination for words surfacing relatively early in her own life.

And then the stories started to come.

She later worked in Fernie as a reporter as well, taking that passion for writing, communicating and telling stories to a whole new level in the community.

Meanwhile, being a part of Writers’ Ink provides a wonderful community to be a part of.

“We meet every single Tuesday – I’ve been a part of other groups before where you only meet every two or three weeks,” she added with a laugh. “But we like to meet often.”

The group meets at the Sunnybrook Farm Museum (4701 – 30th St.) from 7 – 9 p.m.

“On the very first Tuesday of the month, we have something called ‘Learning Tuesday’ because we have writers at different stages of ability.”

These sessions often focus on subjects like specific writing techniques or punctuation, for example.

During a regular meeting, members will bring in their stories on a memory stick, and share what they are working on with the others. “That’s what we do at the meetings – we put our work out there, we give out some critiques. It’s really hard to critique one’s own writing,” she said.

“Again, it goes back to what I mentioned earlier – we are like-minded – and when you are around other people who love words, you don’t have to explain yourself,” she added with a laugh. “It’s a common language – the love of story and writing stories. Then there is the camaraderie that comes with the group, too.”

It’s those times of fellowship that aren’t just meaningful but of course are also a whole lot of fun, too. Often, even after a meeting, members will head out for coffee to further chat about the joys of writing and the mysteries of the creative process.

Many writers of course also work in relative isolation as they pen their works, so getting together with others who share those interests is a definite highlight as well.

“I think it’s the ability to share your work – number one – which is exciting,” she said, adding that getting feedback about one’s work is also very important as well.

Folks interested in learning more about the group are also welcome to drop in anytime, she said. “People drop in all the time. That’s perfectly okay. We invite people to come at least three times without having to pay,” she explained. “They can come and watch our group in action and find out if it’s something that lines up with what they might be looking for.”

As to the release of the brand new anthology, O’Neill couldn’t be more pleased.

”We are proud to offer it the public. Share our pride with a family member, a friend, or buy it as a keepsake to remember this year, 2017, our country’s 150th birthday.”

She said they also wished to thank the City of Red Deer (Cultural Services) for their financial contribution which helped ensure that everything about this book, including the printing, is Canadian.

For more information about Writers’ Ink or about purchasing a copy of the new book, contact Patricia at 403-550-0180 or check out their web site at www.reddeerwritersink.wordpress.com.