Why The Writers Place was Critical to my Success as a Writer
By Alan Robert Proctor
I began writing as a child – stories of flying snowmen, poems to convince my mother to stop smoking:
I wish you would
I truly do
Stop smoking that awful brew
Of tobacco, filter, smoke and trash
That simply does nothing but fall to ash…
It continues that like in sing-song rhyme. I began publishing poems in college and became a humor columnist in the 80s. Many friends in Oklahoma, where I lived for 22 years, helped me in my writing endeavor, but it wasn’t until I moved to Kansas City in 2006 that my writing really took off. Soon after arriving, I joined The Writers Place (TWP) and began to enroll in workshops and seminars – many of them. I was so active that TWP recruited me for the board where I served for three years. My first book, The Sweden File, Memoir of an American Expatriate, a hybrid memoir which I co-authored with my late brother, Bruce, was published in 2015. I workshopped early versions of it at TWP and credit Jo McDougal particularly for helping me finalize it in her memoir workshop.
My second book, Adirondack Summer, 1969, published in 2018 was again workshopped at TWP. Most notably, I remember Brian Shawver’s fiction seminar in which he (and some of the participants) made very helpful comments on content. Then, during a seminar at TWP with the late Bob Chrisman, Bob suggested that we “turn a fairy tale on its head.” That got me started on Grinn’s Fairy Tales: Out Loud Stories which I self-published. I’ve already started a Volume II.
My debut book of poetry, Abacus, is currently on submission and owes its existence to many poetry workshops at TWP and many fellow poets – too numerous to name – who provided suggestions and guidance. After a poetry seminar with Denise Low, the group and I were so impressed with her insight, I asked her to continue meeting with us in my home – which she did. I attended her TWP-inspired workshops for almost two years! Abacus would never have come to be without her counsel and those of my fellow poet-participants.
Finally, The Other Day Ago, a book of fiction, old essays and humor which I am still compiling contains several newer short stories I wrote and published after workshopping them at TWP.
The Writer Place has been an invaluable asset to me. And here is my way of thanking TWP: for every book TWP has helped me complete (whether published or not), I pledge $10.00 to TWP general fund; for every essay/and or short story I have published in part with TWP guidance, I pledge $2.00; and for every poem workshopped at TWP and subsequently published, I pledge $1.00. In all, I am pledging $71.00.
I urge all friends of TWP who have taken seminars, workshops or attended lectures or readings that influenced work which you have published or of which you are particularly proud, to pledge likewise. If you value what TWP offers to aspiring writers, please follow my lead. This community asset deserves our support.
Alan Robert Proctor
Alan's specific challenge to us all is simple, "If you value what TWP offers to aspiring writers, please follow my lead. This community asset deserves our support."
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