“I’ve developed a thicker skin,” John Pringle told the gathering of 18 people who attended the NOWW Critique Workshop on March 14 at the Waverley Library. One of four members of the Thunder Bay Writers Guild who demonstrated their feedback techniques by critiquing two pieces of writing in front of the audience, Pringle said he’s benefitted from being part of the group “more than I ever thought I would.”
Pringle, who recently published his second collection of short stories, Spirals: Stories of Northwestern Ontario, and has won literary prizes from NOWW and the Canadian Authors Association, travels from Atikokan to attend the monthly Guild meetings. “You have people who are going to read your work and be honest with you,” he said.
Guild president Deborah de Bakker talked about the commitment required to belong to a critique group. Each member of the group must contribute a story every four months. The other members are expected to read the stories ahead of the meetings and come prepared with both an oral and written response. Those critiques are “blunt”, she said, but must always be respectful and never include personal attacks.
“My writing is so much better because of the Guild,” said Sue Blott, a multiple award winner in NOWW Literary Contests. She likes the structure of having to write to a deadline. “That discipline is wonderful for me.”
A teacher by day, Sherri Lankinen, writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She has driven through snowstorms from her home in South Gillies to take part in the monthly evening critique sessions. “The biggest thing for me is motivation,” she said.
The Guild now has its full quota of 12 members. When a space opens up anyone who would like to join must submit samples of their writing, which are read by a selection committee.
Other Writing Groups in Thunder Bay
Another critique group in Thunder Bay is seeking members. Writers Northwest currently functions via email rather than meeting face to face. This group also has an application process for joining. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blue Sky describes itself as “a very humble writing group” that meets bi-weekly on Tuesdays at 4 pm at Blue Sky Community Healing Centre, 512 Victoria Avenue East. It is a group for experienced writers as well as newcomers. For more information, call Cindy Crowe at 807-473-9851.
The Writers Circle meets at the Waverley library the last Wednesday of the month. It’s described on the website as having a “fluid” membership, welcoming new faces at every meeting. Here’s a link for more info: http://www.tbpl.ca/writers
Below are the guidelines John Pringle put together for how the Thunder Bay Guild operates.
On Giving Criticism