The Storytellers: A Meetup for Writers in York Region By Sheniz Janmohamed
Who started it? Writers Ange Friesen and Omar Khafagy
What is it? A meetup group geared towards inspiring and encouraging local ambitious writers. A big part of that is encouraging an entrepreneurial, self-motivated approach to writing. In this “information age”, this is a call to focus less on output, and more on creating better content.
When is it? First meetup is Thursday, March 20th, 2014 at 7pm.
Where do I go? The “Teen Room” at Angus Glen Library, 3990 Major Mackenzie Dr E, Markham.
How do I RSVP? http://www.meetup.com/The-Storytellers/
Interview with Ange Friesen
Why did you decide to start the “Storytellers” meetup group?
Ever since starting at the library almost two years ago, I’ve wanted to figure out a way to connect with local writers. I’ve long considered the library a perfect fit to act as a city’s home base for writers; a source of support and community. The first program I developed and ran at MPL was a series of write-ins for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, November). It was clear that there were lots of us, and that many other writers were looking for those same connections and resources. I realized that a month is not long enough to really build the kind of community I wanted to be a part of, but that we could start where we are and build something great.
Writers are known to work on their own, so how do you hope the meetup group will support writers?
One of the things that I found when running the NaNoWriMo write-ins is that some people really like writing in a group. Everyone is still on their own, but there’s this kind of hum of creativity that can really help convince you to put words on the page. Because that’s the thing I have the most trouble with, and being accountable to something beyond myself is a huge motivator for me. But that’s also sort of a secondary thing – the main thing I hope writers will get out of the Storytellers is a chance to form a community. I think that having friends who are also involved in creative pursuits is really important for all artists. I want for members of the Storytellers to have huge creative networks to invite to their amazing launch parties.
What do you think is lacking for writers/creative folk in Markham/York Region?
From what I can see the city’s writers currently lack that sense of connection/community, especially among people who are younger, and busy with work and school and families. I think coming together to build opportunities, and share our ideas and networks and events, giving ourselves and each other opportunities to share our work and talent, is something that we still need to build. I’ve noticed things building over the past two years, and more and more of those connections being made. It’s awesome to see, and to be a part of.
What kinds of programs do you admire/support and would like to see continue or be introduced in your neighbourhoods?
I love anything that inspires people to see the world a little differently, or to engage with their lives in a new way.
I was super inspired when I encountered PechaKucha in Ottawa (*spoiler alert: I was so inspired I decided to co-organize the event in Markham. Woo!). I love what Art Battle are doing. I just really want to see more fun, interesting social events for fun, interesting people.
Who are some of your favourite writers? And some of your favourite books?
I mostly read contemporary fiction, leaning towards the literary (but not ridiculously literary) side of things. I love Michael Chabon – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is probably my favourite novel of all time – and, despite the fact that I rarely like short stories, Amy Bloom is probably my favourite writer at the moment (a moment that has lasted at least three years); surprisingly, her novel was my least favourite (though still beautiful) of her books.
What is one genre of writing you admire but haven’t attempted to write in?
Memoir. I’ve done lots of journaling, but I don’t think that I’ve ever tried to pull my thoughts and feelings and experiences into a non-fiction narrative. What’s nice about fiction is no one knows which bits are “true”, and there is so much room for manipulation of said truths.
Ange Friesen is a writer and librarian, and hopes to someday become a Jungian analyst. Dreams are the most interesting (and weirdly boring) things she knows. She writes about pretty much everything at www.onwonder.com.