Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Write Around Portland

I first heard about Write Around Portland (WAP) through Willamette Week's Give!Guide publication listing various local non-profit organizations. Write Around Portland uses writing to transform lives and build communities. This was definitely a cause I can support. Aside from giving money, I was able to convince my old job to hold a journal drive. In our little calendar store, we were able to donate over 100 journals.

I was "too busy" to do any actual volunteering with them over the next few months but I told a lot of people about WAP. I even got a friend of mine to put in some hours with them. Around the following holiday season, I decided to attend their latest anthology release and reading. I wasn't sure what to expect but I thought the whole thing was cool and unique. Not only do they provide free writing workshops, they also publish a seasonal anthology of the participants' works. Then, they hold readings like the one I went to. I’ve been to a couple of these events and I’ve always been impressed by everyone involved. Talk about empowering- seeing your name in print and knowing there's a roomful of people supporting you. That's what writing can do.

I was lucky enough to attend one of their writing workshops over this past summer. I thought it was well moderated with enough prompts and opportunities to share what you wrote.

I also recently volunteered with them as part of the anthology selection committee. That was a great opportunity to see a behind-the-scenes process and to meet people who also believed in the power of words.

Write Around Portland is a wonderful organization I look forward in helping out more in the future and I hope a lot of other people will as well.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NaNoWriMo Kickoff Party

November is National Novel Writing Month- or NaNoWriMo, for short. There’s a site that encourages people to meet a writing goal of 50,000 words for that period. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to get started- or to get started again. I signed up last year but after the initial first day excitement, all I accomplished was registering for an account. I figured I’d try again this year.

NaNoWriMo is a big deal for a lot of people. There are a lot of events throughout the month to get together with other participants and write. I decided to check out the Kickoff Party for the Portland region and see what exactly it was about.

The turnout was definitely larger than expected. Close to a hundred people were there. People were encouraged to bring snacks and drinks and a lot of people did. This was more of a social gathering than a write-in.

For the most part, I think people were happy to be with others crazy enough to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge. The main activity was a roundtable meet and greet. Anyone who wanted to was given the opportunity to introduce themselves and share whatever was on their minds. Usually it was about their previous NaNoWriMo experience- or lack thereof- and how many times they had “won”. A lot of people went on to share what they would be writing about, getting very detailed. It also served as a chance to meet possible write-in buddies.

With such a large group, it took longer than planned. There was only time to do that and then trade “plot ninjas”- which were basically prompts we had written on index cards that may help another writer with their story.

I was glad to see a few kids in attendance. I’ve only been telling as many people as I can about NaNoWriMo and their Young Writers Program. As much as I didn’t feel like participating, I'm glad I went. There were a lot of great ideas being shared. It was interesting and got me looking forward to get some writing done.