On May 21st, WriterHouse, a community for writers in Charlottesville, VA, celebrates its four year anniversary. As many of you know, I was one of the seven founding members. On May 21st, 2008, there were just the seven of us. Just seven writers who wanted to share the community we had found in our critique group. Since then, WriterHouse has grown to nearly 200 members and taught hundreds of students in classes in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and songwriting. There’ve been seminars on getting your work published and writing humor and writing memoir and promoting your work. Classes for advanced writers and beginners and everyone in between. If you can imagine a class or seminar, we’ve probably offered it.
From the website: “The mission of WriterHouse is to promote the creation and appreciation of literature and to encourage the development of writers of all levels by providing affordable, secure workspace and meeting space, high quality writing instruction, and literary events for the public.
How it began…
WriterHouse began over a table littered with coffee cups and manuscripts. Our writer’s group had been meeting together once a week for over three years in a Charlottesville coffee shop to share our work. Although we were different ages and from different walks of life, we shared a passion for writing.
While writing is a solitary activity, we as writers thrive in community — in the sharing of ideas and questions and in cultivating a space for the craft. For us this happens for two hours every Thursday.
What if we could help other writers find a space and a writing community? The idea of a house emerged, a space dedicated to the craft of writing. And from that could come writing classes, programs, readings — a writing community.
So in the spring of 2008 — we launched WriterHouse. We hope here, you’ll find a home.”
I talk to anyone who will listen about the value of community to writers. All you have to do to understand what I’m preaching about is to go to a WriterHouse event or class. There you will meet passionate, dedicated artists who support each other and give each other encouragement. Who commiserate over disappointments, and celebrate each other’s successes. I’ve seen countless writers grow and blossom there. Many members have had their first publications since taking a class at WriterHouse. Many have held their very first readings there in front of members and friends. There are kids who might not have found a safe place to share their writing if it weren’t for the classes at WH. And adults who might have continued to hide their stories or their poems in journals, convinced no one would want to hear what they had to say.
It’s hard for me to list all the ways WriterHouse has had an impact on my life as a writer. I’ve met incredible authors I might not have otherwise met, gotten to know many talented men and women who share a passion for this thing we call art, and above all, have felt a part of each and every success story WriterHouse has played a part in.
I am honored and proud to be a part of WriterHouse’s history, and will continue to be a part of its future, no matter where I live. To the incredible and tireless co-founders Rachel Unkefer, Elizabeth McCullough, Catherine Crittenden, Hope Mills, Burnley Hayes, and Hilary Steinitz, thank you for letting me be a part of such an amazing dream. To the board members who continue to believe in the dream and carry on the mission, thank you. And to the members and organizations who support us, thank you for helping to make the dream of a true writers’ community a reality.
If you live in the Charlottesville area, support WriterHouse by becoming a member, taking a class, or attending events for the public. Check the WriterHouse website for upcoming classes (the next session starts June 11 – info will be posted soon) and events. Even if you don’t live in the area, please consider making a donation. Help keep the dream alive and help nurture the future voices of literature.