Happy Birthday, 9 Bridges!

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.

Keep Writing!

Elizabyth Harrington,
Executive Director, 9 Bridges

9 Bridges to Host NW Book Festival

PORTLAND, OREGON – August 29, 2015 – Today 9 Bridges assumed ownership of the NW Book Festival from the Northwest Writers and Publishers Association (NWPA). The event, which happens annually in Pioneer Square in downtown Portland, Ore, attracts independent authors and publishers from all over the country. Held on the last Saturday in July, it has become a summer tradition in Portland for the last seven years.

NWPA President Veronica Esagui has entrusted 9 Bridges to carry on her tradition with the Northwest Book Festival. “There was no question in my mind when I decided to find a group to carry on the tradition,” she said. “The organizers of 9 Bridges have impressed me with their passion and dedication to the writing community from the first time I met them. Their heart is really in the right place when it comes to supporting authors. I am very pleased that 9 Bridges will continue the tradition of providing self-published authors a platform to share their work through the NW Book Festival.”

9 Bridges Chairman of the Board, Vargus Pike, agreed. “We are here to help writers. The NW Book Festival is one of the few affordable venues for self-published authors to promote themselves. It’s a perfect alignment of our two visions.”

Information about signing up for the festival will be available in the following weeks on 9bridges.org. Space is extremely limited and will be reserved on a first come – first served basis. For more information, please contact 9 Bridges at NWBookFest@9bridges.org or visit our site atthe Northwest Book Festival.

 

About 9 Bridges Writers Guild: 9bridges.org is dedicated to supporting writers in all stages of their journey to pursue their craft. In addition to providing peer review and support in the form of critique groups, 9 Bridges gives writers access to a wide community through workshops, write-ins, events, online forums and the promotion of events that are interesting and benefit our members.

Contact:
Elizabyth Harrington
9 Bridges Writers Guild
Elizabyth.harrington@9bridges.org

9 Bridges Endorsed by People’s Ink

[quote author=”Peoples Ink” position=”Friend of 9 Bridges”] 9 Bridges is worth checking out, especially for those who want to workshop in a read-out-loud / active listening format.[/quote]

Last month, 9 Bridges was able to make a new connection in Portland, Oregon. While at the Willamette Writers open house, we met Richard Pope, founder of People’s Ink, a local writers community, After a great discussion about the similarities and differences in our two groups, we all came to the conclusion that our organizations compliment each other very well.

About People’s Ink:

the-peoples-ink-logoThe People’s Ink is an open, free and independent writers’ community open to writers committed to their craft, 21 and over. They meet each week for critique and discussion groups. They are a self-publishing cooperative that promotes local readings, and have a community zine – Typehouse – which showcases the writing of regional and national authors. Members may participate however they wish.

For more information, please visit http://peoples-ink.com/

Willamette Writers Introduces 9 Bridges

Willamette Writers is the largest dues-based writers’ group in Oregon, with chapters across much of western Oregon. We were fortunate to be invited to attend their open house and be featured on their website.

Introducing a New Writers Guild – 9 Bridges

April 27, 2015


Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 3.06.24 PMThe Willamette Writers’ 50th Anniversary celebration at our Writing House this weekend brought out members old and new to discover each others’ latest work.
Longtime members Salli Slaughter and George Mason, who have visited over 20 states for their Authors Road project, recently added Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket to their impressive list of author interviews.

We were also visited by the founders of two local literary organizations, People’s Ink, featured in last month’s post, and the executive team behind the new writers’ non-profit 9 Bridges. Elizabyth Harrington, Executive Director of 9 Bridges, describes how the guild went from being a chapter of Coffee House Writers Group to become its own non-profit, and what it offers writers across Oregon, California, Arizona and Montana.

Read the entire article on the Willamette Writers Website…

Poetry Workshop in PDX

This month’s seminar will focus on Poetry as April is national poetry month.

Vargus Pike, published poet extraordinaire and 9 Bridges Board Chairman, will be leading a workshop on poetry. Whether you are interested in trying your hand at writing poetry or simply want to understand the medium better so you can feel more comfortable analyzing and critiquing, Vargus will give you the tools you need. The goal of this month’s seminar is to learn the basics of analyzing poems by the process of close reading with a goal towards developing a greater mindfulness of process and meaning when reading other’s works or writing your own. Breaking down a poem using various strategies informs your own construction. Vargus will be going over basic concepts such as Rhythm, meter, tonality and structure.

The workshop starts promptly at 5:45 PM at First Christian Church, Downtown Portland

For more information and to RSVP, please visit our Meetup page. As always, the workshop is free (although donations are always welcome to help cover our rent at FCC.)

Why is Reading Out Loud Important?

by Elizabyth Harrington

One of the things we do at 9 Bridges is to offer critique groups. Our most popular format for this is our verbal critique groups where people bring material to read out loud. About once a month someone has a question about the format of the group. Usually it’s a request to share files prior to the meeting or to bring printed material to pass out. The logic from the author’s viewpoint is that the person hearing the material will miss things if they aren’t following along with something on paper.

But the benefits to a verbal group outweigh the disadvantages.

Listening is an incredibly important skill that we as humans in industrialized nations are losing. I’m not talking about losing our hearing, although we are bombarded daily with more noise than our ancestors(grin). I’m talking about really paying attention to what someone is saying. With emails and social networks replacing phones and in-person friendships, we are slowly losing that social interaction that requires talking to and listening to one another. That is one of the reasons why the verbal format of these critique groups is so important. In addition to everything else they get out of the group, members are forced by the very format to practice their listening skills.

The art of storytelling started as an oral tradition, and in many ways, it still is. A good piece of writing has a natural flow to it, a little like a stream that carries the reader to sea. This is something that is easily picked up through listening, but can be lost while staring at something on paper. Things like pacing, voice, repetition and dialogue stand out when a piece is read out loud. Many writers habitually read their pieces out loud to themselves while editing – we’ve just taken this to a group dynamic.

Not only do our critique groups encourage the development of good listening skills, but they provide a safe place for writers to practice reading in public. With the resurgence of independent book stores and the importance of self-promotion among authors, it’s vital, more than ever before, to develop this ability.

Finally, while the verbal format allows writers to share and receive feedback on their own material, there’s another important benefit: participants get to hear the feedback on other writers’ work as well. I’ve improved my own writing tenfold simply from listening to the feedback given to my critique group peers.

Whether you prefer a written or verbal style, critique groups are an important resource for writers. If you haven’t experienced this for yourself, we invite you to check out one of our groups at a 9 Bridges Chapter near you.

9 Bridges Launches New Chapter

authorPasadena, CA. – March 31, 2015 – 9 Bridges announced today that it has opened a chapter in Pasadena, California. The new chapter connects writers from Arcadia to North Hollywood and beyond. It includes critique groups, but will also support other events, such as workshops, discussion groups, write-ins, local conferences, author readings and book signings.

The chapter is headed up by long-time La Canada-Flintridge resident, Rora Melendy, who has spent many years volunteering in local schools, community programs, and managing projects that focus on the arts and literacy. Elizabyth Harrington, Executive Director of 9 Bridges states, “We are excited to have Rora join us. She is a warm, supportive leader who understands how to help creative people achieve their dreams. The Pasadena chapter of 9 Bridges is extremely
lucky to have her.”

Rora is excited about the new chapter. “Creating space for literary artists of all types has always been one of my passions,” she explained. “This opportunity allows me to give something back to the community I love.”

Membership to the not-for-profit 9 Bridges is free and more information about the Pasadena chapter can be found on the chapter’s Meetup page (http://www.meetup.com/9BridgesPasadena/ ). Meetings will begin in mid-April. Members are also encouraged to join the 9 Bridges Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/9BridgesWriters/), a public group that joins all of the chapters together into one community.

About 9 Bridges Writers Guild: 9 Bridges is dedicated to supporting writers in all stages of their journey to pursue their craft. In addition to providing peer review and support in the form of critique groups, 9 Bridges gives writers access to a wide community through workshops, events, online forums and the promotion of events that are interesting and benefit its members. A large part of the organization’s success is through its flexibility – 9 Bridges can quickly adapt to fill a writer’s needs, whether they are just starting out or have published a dozen best sellers.

 

Contact:

Rora Melendy
9 Bridges Writers Guild
rora.melendy@9bridges.org

Beyond a Critique Group…

by Elizabyth Harrington

Recently I was asked by a new member of our Portland chapter to explain how a critique group can have so many members and still be of value to writers. The asker’s opinion was that a group of this size was too large to be an effective critique platform.

I replied that unlike most writers groups that consist of a critique group and nothing else, 9 Bridges gives writers a platform to connect and share. In addition to the standard critique groups (Portland has four separate groups meeting weekly), our community offers write-ins, workshops, social events, and promotes other events that members might find interesting (like writers conferences, book signings, workshops and presentations). We are also building a repository of information and resources that will soon be available on our website. Finally, writers develop contacts and relationships through our organization, some of which turn into long and lasting friendships.

I could almost hear the “aha moment” happen over the phone. Then came the excited reply: “You mean it’s an entire community of writers!”

EXACTLY.

While 9 Bridges may have had humble beginnings as a chapter of the Coffee House Writers Group, it quickly evolved to something much more dynamic and exciting: a community of like-minded people with members throughout the country.

Our workshop series came out of discussions on craft and the business of writing during critique meetings. In response to requests for some kind of community interaction between meetings, we created a Facebook community so writers from different critique groups could connect. And, as people moved around, we started new chapters and extended our community reach across state lines.

As our membership base grew, we attracted the attention of other organizations, many of which extended invitations to their events or offered special discounts to our members.Suddenly we realized we were no longer simply a single critique group; we had evolved into a community that shared information, events and experiences with one another. Our tiny family had become a large village.

The best thing about a community is that it is always evolving and changing. Every new chapter – every new member – has something new to teach us. Over the years I’ve been involved with this community, I’ve been fortunate enough to watch it expand and evolve. I am looking forward to many more years watching our humble group become a movement.

Keep Writing!

Elizabyth Harrington
Executive Director