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Writers group broadening horizons

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It’s time to bring the creative light out from under a bushel.

That’s the message the Northwestern Ontario Writers’ Workshop is sending out as it looks beyond Thunder Bay to encourage and support a strong writing voice throughout the northwest.

And it’s bringing that voice to Fort Frances for the first time.

Rosalind Maki, who will be teaching a creative writing course at Confederation College here this fall, said the class will be a great support group for those who have always wanted to write—or are writing already.

“People who have some sort of enthusiasm about writing usually make the best students,” Maki noted, stressing it was important for budding writers to have self-confidence.

“There’s something fostered in the classroom setting.”

But offering the course is just one way NOWW is expanding beyond Thunder Bay. The group also is aiming to bring weekend workshops, readings, and its newsletter to different communities, as well as increase its membership.

“We’re trying to do something to put a face on the writers in Northwestern Ontario,” Maki said. “A lot of people don’t even know how many good writers and how many successful writers there are in the area.

“[And] there are some really fine writers in this [area] who don’t get published,” she added.

“There’s a great need of support for writers,” echoed Charles Wilkins, explaining that was why the NOWW was formed last year.

But its roots goes back to 1991 when Wilkins, a prolific Canadian writer, first moved to Thunder Bay as a writer-in-residence at the library there. By 1994, two anthologies of short stories by local writers were published, with him editing one and Maki the other.

Then, with no writers’ guild in Ontario but an enthusiasm to get something started, about five local writers put together the Northwestern Ontario Writers’ Workshop.

Starting out with 30 members, its membership has tripled over the past year.

“I think there are some benefits to being tied into a community,” Wilkins said, noting it was an excellent way to find moral support and to feel linked to the continuum of writers across the country.

Anyone interested in finding out more can contact Maki at 1-807-767-3756.

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