March 30 marks the first anniversary of our 9 Bridges writing community. I would just like to thank every single member of 9 Bridges, as it is all of you who have made it all possible.
One year ago Vargus Pike, Mark Harrington and I made the bittersweet decision to leave CHWG and branch out on our own as 9 Bridges. It was a difficult choice, as it meant broken friendships, long hours and a lot of hard work for us. At the same time, we felt a responsibility to the writing communities we had started in Portland, Missoula and Phoenix. There was a fair amount of uncertainty in the beginning and one or two days when we asked ourselves, “What were we thinking?” The reality was that it would have been far easier for us to step away, let the chapters die, and go back to the far less stressful pastime of solitary writing.
However, the overwhelming support we received – not only from our chapters, but also from the writing community as a whole – put our fears to rest and we knew we had made the right decision. In the past year we’ve doubled our size, attracting the attention and support of writing organizations in Portland and other areas. All of our wonderful chapter leaders and event hosts have stayed with us and we’ve even started a successful fourth chapter in Pasadena.
We have a great deal to celebrate on our first anniversary. We have some real achievements under our belt as well as exciting things coming up in the not-too-distant future. We have a brand new Board of Directors, whose members add a wealth of knowledge and diverse experiences, ranging from HR to fundraising. But while these are exciting, they pale beside the real success: helping authors. Many of our authors credit 9 Bridges as contributing in some small way to their own success.
I’ll admit, last year I didn’t get to do as much creative writing as I wanted, and running this organization was one of the big reasons. However, every time someone reaches out and tells me how much this group has helped them, it makes every minute I’ve spent on 9 Bridges worth it. I’ll gladly trade a couple of hours of my own writing time to provide a homeless author with a supportive community at a critique group, encourage a writer with social anxiety to read out loud, connect a children’s author to a children’s book publisher or any of the many other contributions I’ve been able to make to support 9 Bridges Writers this year. I’m excited to see how many more authors we can reach this year through building bridges.
Executive Director, 9 Bridges