Wyoming Writers Circle the Wagons
[imgbelt img=wyomingwritersgroup375.jpg]Through the sparsely populated West, writers find motivation, solace, pleasure — and publication — in groups.
[imgcontainer left] [img:wyomingtower320.jpg] [source]Liralen LiWyoming is an inspiring place (here’s stunning Devil’s Tower), but even the inspired need companionship. And they find it in writers’ groups throughout the state.
Writing is a lonely enterprise. Writers usually have only themselves to ask what Dick should say to Jane or whether a digression on the bird species of Upper Volta slows down a story set in the Caribbean. Some writers show their work to trusted friends. But in the frontier state of Wyoming, where the population averages five people per square mile, finding anyone to give sound advice about storytelling might be tough.
It isn’t, thanks in part to an active arts council, a statewide writing organization, and writers groups that are scattered around the state. From Cheyenne to Cody, Casper to Jackson Hole, Sheridan to Sundance and up to what is probably the highest writing group in America — at Atlantic City (pop. 39) — Wyoming writers are creating, critiquing and, yes, publishing their work.
One of the oldest and most successful writers groups in the state, ongoing since 1979, is the Bearlodge group in northeastern Wyoming. It was formed in Sundance, near the national monument known variously as Devils Tower or as Bear Lodge — where Close Encounters of the Third Kind was filmed. Its members meet twice a month in the Crook County Public Library. Like most writers groups, they’ve thought about how to deal with potential emotional meltdowns if writers don’t react well to the criticism they hear. The Bearlodgers collaborated on suggestions to help themselves and other groups critique each other’s work in a spirit of respect.
“Respect for the writer. The writer comes as a pilgrim, bearing an offering.”
“Respect for the piece. To place the offering on the table/altar requires an act of faith by the writer.”
“Respect for the group. Each writer brings to the group his respect for its function and for the other members, making sure each one has time for his work to be discussed, is willing to give his thoughtful critique or expertise, and holds sacred within the group whatever revelations might be shared.”
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