For Jersey City Writers (JCW), 2015 kicked off with a series of regularly scheduled workshops, events and writing marathons but not without a look back first at 2014, which served as a springboard for many new events and incredible membership growth.
Four years ago, JCW consisted of a small group of dedicated scribes who met four times a month to encourage, support and cultivate a shared interest in the writing craft. Since then, the meetings have increased to 16 a month to serve a membership that has grown to include more than 500 writers. Among the membership, JCW counts on an active cadre of volunteers who often give voice to new ideas and serve as the driving force behind events and collaborations.
Here are just a few of the highlights from 2014:
In March JCW took to the stage during the Loew’s Jersey Theatre’s StageFest with the play Dissecting Lily, a first-time collaborative effort that brought together the skills of fourteen writers, Director Dan Thorens, Stage Producer Amanda Levie, and a cast of talented actors. Both evening performances were held in front of a standing-room only audience in the historic Loew’s Theatre. The making of the play was featured in a segment by JC1TV.
JCW moved beyond fiction with the Nonfiction Workshop, which is held on the second and fourth Monday of each month at John’s Cafe. Nonfiction Workshop provides journalists, memoirists, essayists, bloggers and creative nonfiction writers an opportunity to hone their skills and share their work in the who, what, why, where, when and how of things.
For folks who fancy long reads and novel writing, The Full Story, another new program, brought together like-minded novelists who offer one another encouragement, accountability and feedback throughout the process of finishing their novel. The group begins each new review cycle with a “Speed-Dating” event for novelists to scope each other out and find a partner or two.
The Genre Events became one of JCW’s most popular ongoing social gatherings drawing crowds of more than 40 people to different venues around Jersey City for special literary readings. The number of entries each submission period remained consistent as writers vied for a spot to have their works read by an actor before a live audience as well as published online. Last year featured events themed around science fiction, erotica, horror, western and paranormal fiction. Special guests included science fiction writer Jeff Somers and award-winning novelist Leanna Renee Hieber.
For a second year running, JCW played an active role in supporting writers who participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In order to get writers closer to their goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November, JCW held a mixer and a synopsis building workshop to prepare writers for the month along with a regular writing marathon evenings.
Some writers enjoyed the opportunity to simply gather with fellow writers and write perhaps with a drink or guacamole on the side, which is what our consistent Marathon events offered throughout 2014. Writers met every other Monday and some Fridays, and Saturdays in a local pub or restaurant to tap away, focus and get the word count up.
Considering all the time writers spend hunched over their keyboards, JCW felt it was time to really get up and stretch the body and the imagination with a special Yoga and Writing Workshop, which was held in May. Writers explored breathing, meditation and movement as a means to unlock greater creativity.
A dozen members in November sought inspiration surrounded by nature for the Rustic Writers’ Retreat, which was held over a weekend on a farm in Mount Vernon, New Jersey. Writers bonded over early morning coffee and omelets, cow-gazing, hikes, yoga and homemade dinners with plenty of time to just sit and write.
Above all, 2014 offered plenty of opportunities to write among friends and familiar faces with a mix of fun and creative inspiration thrown in.