A burgeoning literary community finds voice in the mountainsBy Laurie Cooper
Its a dark, rainy November night in Whistler, but a few brave souls have battled the weather to get to Blacks Pub. Outside it may be cold and dreary, but in the pub it is warm and cozy. The small group clusters around the fireplace, cradling their drinks and listening intently. They have gathered for an evening of readings by the Whistler Writers Group.
Six writers are presenting their work they range from young, aspiring amateurs to seasoned professionals who make a good living from their writing. What they all have in common is that they make their homes in Whistler.
Writers in Whistler are somewhat invisible. They are in our midst but we dont necessarily know who they are. Stella Harvey is hoping to change that. She would like more people to hear and read the work of local writers.
Harvey moved to Whistler last year, looking for a break from her high-pressure career as an international management consultant. Her last gig was in the heart of Rome, Italy, setting up a new branch office while managing consulting contracts. Whistler is quite a contrast.
The idea for a book had been percolating in Harveys brain for a couple of years and she wanted to take some time out to get it down on paper. Originally, Harvey and her husband intended to use Whistler as a base from which to choose the ideal place to live. Then they realized that they were already there and they settled in.
Harvey quickly discovered that she craved some interaction with other writers. "For the first three or four months, it was okay," she says. "But then it got sort of lonely and I realized I was getting no feedback on my work."
Being used to getting things done, she simply placed an ad in the local papers looking for writers who were interested in forming a group.
The response was surprising. Within a very few months, there was a regular group of 8 to 10 people meeting weekly at Harveys house, and there are a total of 25 people on the groups e-mail list who offer support, ideas and feedback, even if they cant make it to the meetings.
"Were mostly a support system and source of motivation for each other," says Harvey. "The bulk of the meeting is spent giving each other feedback."
This feedback has been invaluable for Harvey. She shared the first three chapters of her book with the group, and based on their comments, she made significant changes. After submitting those chapters to a publisher, she received a request to see the whole manuscript.
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