by Melora Purell
Special to NHN
“Write. Just write.” is the advice Marie Fellenstein Hale gives to aspiring authors. She and others in the Writers’ Support Group at Tutu’s House in Waimea inspire each other to express themselves, but their individual motivation for writing can be as diverse as their writing styles.
“The group does not act as an editor. It’s support for finding your voice as a writer,” said Hale. After working professionally as a technical writer and editor, she decided to enlist the support of the group to try a new challenge: writing fiction.
“Writing has been my therapy,” said long-time group member Wanda Patterson. The group encourages you to write because people are so supportive, honest and welcoming, she said. She had written reports and proposals during her career, but she never thought of herself as a writer. Her new identity has evolved through writing personal observations, and hearing other writers’ views of the world. “I have learned so much from these people,” she said.
Group member Jim Cisler has just finished his first book —- an historical novel set in 1794 on the Big Island. It’s a “contrary history” that began as background research for a story of his grandmother’s life. He said that his attendance at the group is “selfish” because the feedback has been so essential both to his overall motivation to write as well as in the development of the characters in his story. “I cannot think of any better way to re-energize as a writer,” he said about the group.
The Writers’ Support Group is just one of many groups that are organized at Tutu’s House, a non-profit community health and wellness project of Friends of the Future in Waimea. At Tutu’s House, community members can find, for example, support groups for grief and health concerns, classes in circuit training, child development, and yoga, and interest groups sharing Scrabble, quilting, and ukulele.
At a writers’ group meeting on Tuesday morning, 15 men and women of a range of ages and writing experience were seated around a circle of tables. A white paper tablet on an easel at the front of the room listed the writers’ names and length of works to be shared that day.
We are here to create a safe, supportive place to inspire writers and writing, said John Holland, introducing the founding principles of the support group. As listeners, you are neither editor nor critic, he added.
“I would like feedback, any kind of feedback,” said Paul Clark, as he introduced his writing to the group. “Dear grandchildren,” he began, reading aloud an emotional remembrance of a day in his life in 1968, during the Vietnam war. At the end of the reading, listeners shared that they were moved by the story, noted the sharpness of the details despite the passage of time, and made suggestions for improving the clarity of the content.
“These people have incredible stories,” said Clark. He has been with the group for a couple of years, and recently, inspired the writers to self-publish a small volume of their work, entitled Coconuts and Pearls. The book is available for purchase, and all proceeds will benefit Tutu’s House programs.
The public is invited to share the magic of these stories at an informal reading by the group’s writers at Tutu’s House in Waimea on Thursday, March 29th at 6:30 pm. Beverages will be provided, and guests are asked to bring a light potluck dish to share.