I wanted support my good friend Steven Reigns at his recent writing session, “The Secret to Writing is Writing”, this past Saturday, at the West Hollywood Library. The event was presented in part of a WeHo Art artist grant with support from the West Hollywood Library.
Steven Reigns is the first West Hollywood City Poet Laureate and an award winning author. He has held many writing events in West Hollywood, but this is the first time he host a space where the focus is to just write for the sake of writing. The goal of the session was to create a space to be creative. The three-hour session was set up with four segments of “Quiet Writing Time” and four breaks. The focus was to create quiet time to write and create without distractions.
The event was held in the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Room on the second floor of the West Hollywood Library. Fifteen writers attended the writing session ranging in age from 30s to 60s. They were all writing their art in various ways: long handwriting, laptops and cell phones.
I arrived late. After a restless previous night, I forced myself to head over to the library. I felt very self-conscious entering the event already in progress, but the flyer did state one could come and go whenever they want during the 3 hours, so I entered and sat down and went straight to work.
I planned to work on one of my current writing projects, but I decided that maybe my writing should be a story about this event instead, since I was also there to take some photos. I started by writing down my notes on a yellow piece of paper and outline my story. Then I grabbed my computer and I got to work.
During one of the breaks, I spoke to my fellow writers about what they thought of the session and what they were working on: “Sitting and working in a room with other writers, there is an energy” a woman named Peggy told me.
Another gentleman said he was working on his novel.
One writer was worked on her poetry by taking an email and working it into a poem. She said that she did not feel guilty coming and sitting for a few hours to work on her craft. At home she is always pulled in different directions and focusing on her writing is sometimes very hard.
Throughout the session a few writers left, and others arrived. One writer included a West Hollywood librarian who is also a best selling author. Many of the writers in the room had done a writing seminar before and said this writing session was totally worth attending.
After the last break, the room went into a one-hour silent writing hour. As I typed away on my computer, I realized my computer was not fully charged. It only had 12% battery life left. The same thing happened to the woman beside me – her computer was not charging, so her computer went dead. She did not skip a beat, she grabbed a pen and paper, and kept going–a true writing warrior.
Throughout that last hour, I found myself needing inspiration. I looked out at the beautiful view overlooking West Hollywood Park where a children’s birthday party was in full swing with a few superheroes in attendance. There was a man walking his two dogs, a woman with her kid in a stroller, and I could see the tents being installed for the up and coming Elton John AID Foundation Oscar Viewing Party next week. I thought to myself how any of those scenes could be turned into a good story and how a good story needs a quiet space for inspiration.
Looking around the room at everyone creating, the writers seemed grateful for the space. My friend Steven is totally right, the secret of writing is writing. Totally true, as you can read here, which I wrote in a room full of fellow writers who inspired me.
“I was so pleased with the turn out,” Steven told me after the seminar. “That so many writers came out to take risks.”
I asked Reigns what he worked o during the session: “I actually worked on editing my next collection,” he said. “I created this in hope to help others, but I really helped myself. Editing work can feel really tedious, sometime generating new work there is an enjoyment or one feels something has been accomplished, but editing is its own kind of animal. It was nice to create structure where I had to sit down and not be distraction with cleaning or social media and really focusing on doing work. Everything is going to be more distracting than the blank page.”
I too felt the event was a great success. Who knows, maybe out of those three hours there will be a new bestseller book, an Oscar winning screenplay or a Pulitzer Prize winning poem.
Writer Ruth Berauchamp wrote a poem the blew me away. The name of her poem is titled “Library Window”—yes, Ruth wrote what she saw looking outside the same library window.
Reigns is hoping there will be more “The Secret of Writing is Writing” sessions in the future.
For more information on Steven check out his website at www.StevenReigns.com and more city events visit www.weho.org.