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Monday, July 18, 2011

Growing Pleasures

In the earlier days of LWC - certainly not the earliest because our group had been in existence for a year before I joined in February of 2008 - our attendance was small. I think, at the most, we might have had to pull together three of those little Joe Muggs tables at Books-A-Million where we met. A good night was maybe eight people, but I'd say we averaged five or six at critique and creative writing nights.

In early 2009 our attendance was increasing, and we were worried we might outgrow our space at Joe Muggs. We started looking for more space and found a writing home at Utopia Coffee House.

Before our April 2009 move, we got the word that our president and the group's creator, Duncan James, was moving out of town, and none of the rest of our board members (at the time we were a not-for-profit group)
really wanted to be the president and inherit all the hassles that go along with the NFP requirements.

We had three options: abolish the group (broke our hearts to consider this one), someone step in as our new president (no one wanted it), or what was ultimately our solution - get rid of the NFP, get rid of the fees, get rid of the need for a board of directors.

So we set our group on cruise. Alan kind of sailed the ship for us for a couple of months but had no desire to do it long term, and somehow - and for the life of me, I honestly can't remember how - I got talked, . . . bullied, . . . beat . . . into being the group leader. It was never something I volunteered for, it just happened. And somehow it fit, and I found myself loving every second of it.

The growth that started in early 2009 hasn't let up. In early 2010, it became clear that we were outgrowing our space again. Utopia Coffee House had been good to us, but we just couldn't comfortably squeeze one more body in there, so we started another hunt for a new location. LWC member Ed found us a new home at Rippavilla Plantation in the Excel building.

We made the big move to Rippavilla in June of 2010 and have an abundance of space to grow into there.

Soon after, it became clear to Mary Ann and me that we could no longer handle all aspects of the group on our own. So we formed an advisory committee to make decisions for LWC. A few months ago, again as our group continued to grow, our advisory committee recommended the creation of another leadership position for educational purposes and invited Cece Dockins into that role, which she is thriving in.

Your LWC committee members are Cece Dockins (education coordinator), Eric Gannon, Alan Hooper, Denise Churchill, Jen Ballard (Public Relations Coordinator), Mary Ann Weakley (Newsletter Editor), and Karen Aldridge (Director).

Our move to Rippavilla put our attendance growth in overdrive. In June of 2010, we were averaging twelve to fourteen in attendance. At our last meeting, in July 2011, we had the largest attendance ever at twenty-four people.

In the last few months, we've had a few meetings (counting critique, creative writing, and our nights of learning) that have met or exceeded twenty in attendance, so our current average is sitting at about twenty per session. Between our two to three meetings per month, there are about forty to fifty of you regularly attending. And we now have over one hundred people on our member-contact list.

Thank you for making LWC your writers' group home. Our LWC Advisory Committee will be meeting in August to review processes and group structure to assure that through all of these growing pleasures we continue to meet the needs of our group.

Please feel free to talk with any of the committee members listed above with any ideas you might have.

Post by: LWC Director, Karen Aldridge. Visit her personal blog at My Writing Loft.

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