The Ventura County Writers Club was founded in 1933 by four writers in the Ojai, California area. Since then the club has grown to more than 150 members and holds regular monthly general membership meetings. In these meetings persons prominent in all areas and genres of the literary field speak on sources for ideas, enhancing creativity, and getting your work published. Click here for Membership Information...
VCWC Announces Its First Annual Memoir Contest
The contest opens on September 1 and closes September 15. Get those pieces polished and renew your membership (or join!), because this contest will only be available to members paid for the 2015-2016 year.
August 2015 Program
“The word ‘anthology’ enjoys an etymology worth recalling. ‘Logos’ means writing or speaking, while ‘anthos’ means flower. And so an anthology is a bouquet, a garland, a posy of blossoms that seems best and most beautiful. I might pick more bluebells than you, and fewer daffodils, but they’re all flowers, and the mixture is an expression of the one who picks them.” Mark Kingwell, professor of philosophy, Toronto University, May 5, 2015 in The Globe and Mail.
I am continually intrigued with words—a writer’s occupational hazard, I suppose. Where did they originate? When did they join our English vocabulary? Were our current words birthed in royal courts or on some seamy seaport street? What layers of meaning lie below our common usage? “Anthology” is one of those words.
A little research reveals that the word slipped into English usage in the 1630s. Its origin is Greco-Roman. Early on its use invoked the metaphoric collecting of flowers, i.e., verses and small poems by several authors. The current use of “anthology” embodies a wider literary scope and a subtle difference from a simple collection. A collection can contain works of a specific type of a single author, such as the sonnets of Shakespeare. It could be the complete works of Aldous Huxley or essays of Theodore Seuss. But an anthology is a publication that always comprises works by different authors, sometimes upon a common theme or other shared criterion, such as by authors of a specific location or affiliation, like our own biennial VCWC Press anthologies.
I like Professor Kingwell’s definition of “anthology”—a “bouquet … of blossoms that seems best and most beautiful.” Choosing the blooms is always exciting and always challenging. Publication in VCWC anthologies is reserved for VCWC members and the winners of VCWC’s writing contests that are open to non-members. Because VCWC accepts no other anthology submissions from authors outside its membership, the bulk of the “bouquet” comes from the VCWC garden. Many a tender shoot was carefully tended and coaxed to full bloom in a club workshop. They’re home-grown beauties, if you will. Just as sturdy-stemmed roses, graceful white calla lilies, and pink gladioli combined with delicate peonies and feathery ferns make for a glorious bouquet, so the stories, essays, and poems, long and short, tough and tender, complement each other in Remembrances. A compliment to the work of editor and Anthology Chair, Carol Malone, and her assistants.
Beyond “a gathering of beautiful flowers,” the word “bouquet” has a second meaning. It also refers to a pleasant fragrance, as in the bouquet of a fine wine. How fitting that the selection of noteworthy writing should be referenced in such sensual terms. It is our hope that through the authors’ skilled selections and arrangements of words in their individual works, the reader will experience in this volume the sights, sounds, and yes, the aromas of life.
David Wilk knows a thing or two about remembrances. His appearance on Tuesday, August 11 is the perfect precursor to our September memoir contest and the cherry-on-top for our Remembrances. After over forty years of writing for newspapers and magazines, creating numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, David has focused the last several years on writing biographies and family histories. Enlightening and entertaining, David brings tested tips and techniques for keeping life’s stories authentic and relatable— whether you write your history or someone else’s. His eighth biography will be published in December, 2015.
July 2015 Program
You’ve heard, and maybe said, countless times how solitary the writing experience is. Even now as I write this article, I’ve closed my office door: a do-not-disturb plea and warning to my household. Most times they get it. Sometimes, life interrupts while I’m wringing words from my psyche. I bet it happens to you, too. Who understands this frustration better than another writer?
While writing is solitary, it is also communal. We come together at writers meetings to commune and commiserate, to find empathy and education, to inspire each other and to be inspired on how to be better communicators, whatever our genres.
No matter how much we say that we write for ourselves, we write to communicate. We write so we don’t forget the milestones of our lives and so others will take note of them. We write to share facts and opinions. We write to share dreams and visions. What we want at the end of hours of solitary hair-pulling, teeth-grinding, and blank-page-snow-blindness is for someone else to feel what we feel, hear the sounds, and see the sights that we do — to know what we know. It doesn’t matter what we write — a textbook, a poem, a novel, or bicycle assembly directions — the ultimate goal is communication.
As much as communication is a goal, feedback on how well we are succeeding in that effort is vital in accomplishing it. The bold authors who will be sharing their words and bits of their writing journeys at our July meeting are to be commended, and we ask that you take the time to share your thoughts on their work. Receiving feedback requires the audacious step of exposing one’s creation. It can be as terrifying as it is exhilarating for the speaker. As an audience, being exposed to the array of genres and topics embraced by other writers may shed light on our own efforts.
Ventura County Writers Club exists “to encourage the craft.” Consider this as you listen to and review the readings. Listen as both a reader and a writer. How did the story/poem touch your emotions? Was there clarity? What did you enjoy? Was the work cohesive or did something seem out of place? What about the author’s style, word choices, the tone of the work, the images used? I’m sure you get the idea. The authors, as would you, will appreciate sincere comments and reactions. You may sign your review or let that famous author, A. Nony Mous take the credit.
Fresh Ink: The pinnacle of communication for a writer is publication.
Connie Mukherjee’s expanded Fresh Ink presentation will include some of theartifacts referenced in Nanibala’s Belief, a visionary work of historical fiction. Released in June, 2015, by Balboa Press, a division of Hay House, Nanibala’sBelief, explores the virtues of nineteen fascinating men and women from opposite sides of the world through seven generations of parallel lives. This engaging and moving work draws on the cross-cultural backgrounds of Connie, who is fromIndiana and her husband, Ajit from India. Connie’s “words float onto the page with a poetic cadence that captures and holds the reader’s attention.
June 2015 Meeting
Power Tools for Writers
Ignitions, Accelerators, Clutches and Brakes