Write On! Welcomes Santa Monica Writers to Share
Write On!, held monthly at the Third Street Promenade Barnes & Noble, allows writers to be around likeminded, creative and diverse people. "It's a support group for writers," said regular attendee Arlene Leder.
According to www.writeononline.com, "goal setting, troubleshooting, networking and light critique" are the focus of the WO!
Community. WO! meetings are casual and loosely organized into three segments. They
begin with status reports from members, and the establishment of goals to achieve by next meeting. This part of the session provides returning members with an opportunity to catch up with each other, and gives first timers a chance to introduce themselves.
The activities that members assign themselves vary in commitment level. Goals can be as daunting as transcribing hours of
recorded interviews, or as undemanding as starting a journal. Once members are settled the group moves to talking workshop.
Attendees are encouraged to share their affairs and query the pool of experience present amongst a forum of writers. A recurring figure in that forum is WO! creator and group leader Debra Eckerling. Eckerling is a communications specialist, and a 12 year veteran of the writing business
whose credits include contributions to
Script magazine, The Jewish Journal, Storylink and TV Film Critic Central.
Eckerling founded WO! during the mid 90's in Schaumburg, Il. while she was a Community Relations Coordinator for Barnes & Noble. Eckerling was approached by a B&N patron who was sure that there was a demand in the
community for a writer's group. Shortly
thereafter WO! was holding meetings at
the Schaumburg B&N twice a month.
Eckerling would lead that meeting despite eventually leaving B&N until she relocated to LA at the end of '97 to work in publishing. "After I moved to LA, I told everyone one of my proudest accomplishments was this fabulous writer's group I started back in Illinois" said Eckerling.
Unfortunately, Eckerling would have to wait five years before she got a chance to lead another WO! meeting. Eventually a chance encounter between Leder and members of The Artist's Gallery in Santa Monica led to WO!'s first west coast incarnation. Leder was taking a walk along third street promenade and decided to stop into TAG on a whim. "I knew Debra had been looking for a place to host her writer's group for years, and here was this empty gallery space looking
for creative events" says Leder.
WO! held meetings at TAG for several months, but the gallery didn't really have the proper nuance for the group. In May of '02 WO! managed to secure a meeting place at the Third Street Promenade B&N where they have met ever since. "Barnes & Noble loves us," said Eckerling. "We've been here seven years." With its real estate issues settled, WO! was finally free to do what it had done and continues to do best: providing writers with a safe and comfortable place to share each other's company and work.
In the final segment of a WO! meeting,
attendees are given a forum to share their
work with the group. "There's something
that happens when you read your work
aloud to other writers," said Eckerling.
Perhaps she refers to a momentary pause
upon the discovery of an awkward sounding sentence, or the nodding of heads after a particularly pleasing passage. Less concretely and more likely, however, it is the development of a creative work's voice, and the understanding that those first words are spoken to a group of people that "really
get it," that account for the magic that
happens at WO! meetings.
WO! has been serving writers off and on for well over a decade now, and in that amount of time regular attendees may come and go. This past month WO! welcomed seven new members, but there are always times when members are forced by their circumstance to
stop attending meetings. Alaska native Geoff Brosamer was visited by such circumstance and would later tell Eckerling that WO! was "the thing he missed the most about LA."
Thankfully Eckerling's penchant for networking and familiarity with the internet led to the launch of www.writeononline.com last summer. WO!'s online manifestation gives Brosamer and other past attendees seperated by geography a chance to be a part of the loving community. It has also opened the door for WO! to help other writers living
any number of miles away from third
street promenade. "I want to continue to
build [WO! Online] up until it's a web
sensation!" said Eckerling.
So if you're a writer at any level of experience, and you want to know you're not the only one out there, come be a part of the
sensation either in person, or online.