For the last nine years, the Airdrie Adult Writers Club has given the city’s novelists, authors, poets and bloggers a platform to gauge feedback and constructive critiques on their writings.
Sponsored by the Airdrie Public Library (APL), the club meets on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. While the club used to hold meetings in person at the library, the sessions have been held via APL's Zoom channel since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to member Jen Atkin, who helps organize the sessions, the club was started in 2012 by APL Operations Manager Kelly Kirkpatrick-Lauzon.
“[Kirkpatrick- Lauzon] had started it with a relative of hers, who is also a writer,” Atkin said. “She wanted to have a group and I think some other people thought it would be a good idea. The library has a space and they were gracious enough to let us use it once a week.
“It kind of evolved from there and is still going. Obviously, COVID is affecting everything, including us, but the library has still allowed us to use their Zoom every week.”
During the weekly meetings, Atkin said members talk about a variety of writing-related topics, such as what they’re currently working on or the publishing process. She said members often bring something they’ve written, and the rest of the group provides feedback and ideas.
“It’s pretty informal and it’s constructive criticism only,” she said. “We don’t say negative stuff. We try to say, ‘Hey, what about this or that?’”
According to Atkin, approximately 14 members take part in the meetings consistently, though others come and go less frequently. She said the members’ writing niches vary, with some writers focused on fiction genres such as horror, historical fiction, young adult and fantasy, while others focus on poetry, non-fiction blogging or theatrical scripts.
“I wouldn’t really pigeonhole each person as only writing [one genre]. It’s quite a range,” Atkin said.
Regardless of what each member is working on, the Airdrie Adult Writers Club provides myriad advantages to local writers, she added.
“Feedback and positive reinforcement can really help someone feel like they’re not working in a vacuum,” Atkin said. “They’re working on something and there are other people doing similar things who can give some encouragement or maybe some pointers they haven’t thought of.
“It’s always a benefit and I feel I learn something every week. I hope that continues and the group keeps going and encouraging people.”
While not necessarily known as a hub for authors, Airdrie still has a vibrant local community of published and aspiring novelists, according to Atkin. In addition to the Airdrie Adult Writers Club, she said there is a local Facebook page where Airdrie writers congregate. Though it’s not affiliated with the APL club, Atkin said local writers are often active in both.
The Facebook page – Airdrie Writers Group - includes 62 members. Atkin said the page often posts writing prompts, challenges and contests.
“We have some really talented people in the city and it’s great to see what they can do and are up to,” she said.
To join the Airdrie Adult Writers Club, visit airdriepubliclibrary.ca and check out the library’s calendar.