Out of that effort came the Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe, a 10-member writers group meeting twice a month at Desert Rose Cafe in downtown Williamsport.
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The Herald-Mail sat down with seven members of the group and with Carr, who has served as a publishing consultant on their first group publishing project, an anthology, “Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe: An Anthology.”
What do you do during your meetings?
Steve: We read somebody’s writings. We discuss future plans. Right now, we’re taking turns doing a teaching session.
Tom: We do some planning at our meetings: What direction do we want to go. Certainly to get “Writers of the Desert Rose Cafe: An Anthology” published, there was lots of conversation at the meetings about money, about editing it, about uploading it, all that stuff. And then, we have a lot of fun. We laugh a lot at our meetings. We have great talks. We’ve become really good friends over the course of a year.
Steve: There are three rules we started off with. When we read somebody’s writing, we say we like it or don’t like it because (and) you gotta give a reason. (Second), we edit each other’s writings on grammar, language, content and being factual. (Third), we agree to leave our thin skins at the door.
So you try to help each other improve as writers.
Fay: Another thing we try to do is draw on other people who have more information than we do. For example, Lauren (Carr) has come and talked to us about publishing, but also about writing. We try to continue to learn.
George: We have different goals. Individual goals. I don’t know anything about the promotional side of anything. I write because I enjoy it.
Millie: This is my third writing career. I started when I was in school; before high school I guess. I wrote a lot. About 25 years later, when my kids were grown, I took it up again. And I was doing very well, getting my things published in small presses. Then I got family responsibilities. My father, I had to take on his care. Then almost right after he died, my husband retired and his health went bad. So I put (writing) aside again. I’ve been in different writers groups over time. But then I found this one. I’ve been coming steadily.
Darlene: This group has been very inspirational, because we’re so diverse, both in our writings and in our thinking. And yet, we came together. We enjoy each other’s company. And as Steve said, our thin skins are left out there.
Why is that important?
Darlene: Because I may write something, and it may stink, but I think it’s good. It’s refreshing to hear other comments. Then I can revise according to what is said.
So it helps you improve your craft when you are open to others’ points of view.
Darlene: Correct. I have written probably 200 books over the years. Writing was always my therapy. The writing I do may not appeal to other people, but it helped me over the years. My children — I have three natural children and one adopted. Every one of them has a major illness. (Writing) helps me.
So there’s a social aspect to the group?
Fay: When we started the group, one of the things we had in our rules was we did not want it to disintegrate into a social group. We wanted to stay focused on our writing. And I think we’ve done that. One of the side benefits is we help each other. Writing is so personal, and what’s happening in your life, your mind, your environment, influences your writing.
Susan: (This group) also gives you a chance to look at different genres that you may not have thought were your thing. I write poetry, but I also have a children’s book that I’m working on with Vera.