Interviewer: Hi Christine
Christine Marie Bryant: Hi
I: How are you?
I: We’re here today, in your home. I want to thank you for letting me interview you. We’re going to be talking about the Coffee House Writer’s Group. You are the founder.
I: Can you tell me a little bit about Coffee House Writer’s Group?
CMB: Well, my inspiration came from looking for motivation to write personally. Nothing out there really motivates me to write more than people and reading my writing to people. So I figured I’m going to go out there and find people who would like to listen to me read and that there are writers that would want to have others listen to them. My whole idea was to have maybe 5 or 6 people meet on a weekly basis.
CMB: I stumbled across meetup.com and I did some investigation of writer’s groups. I went to a couple of them. I saw thing I didn't like and things I liked. So I took the things that I liked and I created this group.
I: So this is a group for writers who read to each other and then?
CMB: And then we critique. We talk about the writing and we give our opinions. I make it clear to everyone that comes that it’s important to give honest critiques so that the writer can take the information and learn from it. They can take the critiques that work for them and leave the rest. So the writer can improve the piece they're working on. Nobody is there to hurt anyone’s feelings. And honestly, that really hasn’t happened. We’re all adult about taking the criticism and it being constructive criticism.
I: Very good. When did this start?
CMB: I started investigating other writer’s groups last year. As a New Year’s Resolution I just jumped in. I thought, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
CMB: I love coffee and I love the idea of meeting in a coffee house. The place I had originally picked was a coffee house. So really it was simple, I made the logo with a coffee cup, added the name, Coffee House Writer’s Group.
CMB: I didn't know this but Meetup.com jump starts new groups by sending out invitations to people who have said they want information in a certain category. So I selected writers, screen writers, poets as tags for the group. There may be 20 different tags for the group. So what happened was they sent an invitation out to all the people that said they were interested. I probably had, within four or five days, there were 45 people who joined.
I: You’re nine months in now?
I: How many people do you have now?
CMB: 159 participating members.
I: When do you meet?
CMB: It started on Thursday nights. There were a lot of people that couldn’t make it during the week. So we decided to also put a meeting together on Saturday afternoons for people who live farther away that don’t want to fight the traffic during the week.
CMB: Then we found another venue that is so wonderful. They have given us the opportunity to hold meetings there on Monday nights. So every other Monday we have writing competitions, and on the other Mondays we have writing workshops.
I: Tell me about the competitions.
CMB: The competition is a writing prompt competition where the contestants get the prompt when they arrive at five o’clock or five-thirty, so they have 60 -90 minutes to write about the prompt. At the end, they read what they’ve written. Then the contestants vote by private ballot, but they can’t vote for themselves. The ballots are counted to find the winner. The prizes are $20 gift cards from Barnes & Noble, Boarders, Starbucks, or other store card. The gift cards are donated by businesses and in return they have a sponsor ad on our website.
I: So your sponsors are local business people who support the writers in this area.
I: Coffee House Writer’s Group is obviously growing. What are your plans for the future?
CMB: I see little things happening every month. In the beginning, I saw that there should be a committee. It’s really cool, that now I have a committee. In the beginning I saw there should be competitions and now we have competitions. It’s already in motion.
CMB: Everything that I see is going to happen at some point. Right now, there are a lot of ideas for a writer’s retreat and to do things together as a group; going to a murder mystery dinner or doing a radio blog show for the group. The idea is to have a meeting for people who live too far away and can’t come to a meeting. The reading could be done on the radio and they can be home in their pajamas. They could be on their home computer and we could have an online meeting. That’s very cool.
CMB: Another thing that I see is that this grows into a non-profit organization that helps support writing in high schools. There will be writing competitions for high schoolers and have the prizes be a $200 or $500 scholarship toward their continued education. The Coffee House Writer’s Group will be the judges or mentors.
CMB: One of the members just said that he could see himself mentoring kids that are really into writing. He suggested workshops where members can work with the high school writers partnering on projects.
I: Wow! You have big plans.
CMB: Yes, I do.
I: I just want to thank you for giving me your time to tell me about Coffee House Writer’s Group. I’m sure we’ll be meeting again as the group grows and grows.
CMB: Thank you.
Go to Coffee House Writer’s Group fan page on facebook or meetup.com for more information.