BY MARK WEBER
Anyone looking to gather with like-minded folks interested in bolstering their writing skills is encouraged to drop by a meeting of the Lacombe Writers Group.
“We’re a very laid back bunch of people who just love to write and love to share it, too,” explained member Maureen Pocock, adding the group has been in existence for about eight years or so.
“There’s never a huge crowd of us – I’d say on my email list there is about 15 people,” she said. “But if we get eight out at a meeting, we’re doing quite well.” But no matter who shows up, the meetings consistently offer a rewarding and insightful time to discuss writing styles, share stories and chat about how to build skills.
Meetings are held in a meeting room at the Lacombe Evangelical Free Church every second Monday, starting at 7 p.m.
“That’s adjustable because sometimes it will be a Monday that is part of a long weekend.”
Pocock said you never know what to expect at a given meeting.
“We can be sitting around the table and we will all have written something. It can be so diverse – everyone can be completely off the map,” she laughs. “Or everyone has written something along the same theme.”
A couple of poets are part of the group as well, which adds yet another creative dimension to the group.
“Most often, everybody has something to read,” she said. “And sometimes, it isn’t something that was just created in the last two weeks – sometimes it’s something that you’ve been working on for awhile or sometimes it was something written years ago that has maybe been brought up to date,” she added. As mentioned, discussions often follow the reading of a given work, but as Pocock said with a chuckle, the other members, “Go pretty easy on the criticism.”
In her own experience, Pocock said she initially became interested in the beginnings of the group when it came time to start doing some writing within her own family.
Her parents had both passed away and she had a lot of material relating to family history and experiences that she wanted to start recording. “I was anxious to get it on paper.”
That’s essentially when the group came to be.
Pocock always had an interest in writing, but again, it was mainly after her parents died that she felt it was important that stories of her grandparents on both sides were recorded.
“The first story that I wrote was about my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family – he had come to Canada to before the First World War. He went back during the war to fight with the Canadians. While he was over there, he was injured a couple of times and he eventually ended up fighting with British because the Canadians didn’t think he was well enough to come back.
“In the meantime, he had met my grandmother and they were married in February right after the First World War in 1919. They then came to Canada to live, and he already had a farm around Lacombe,” she said, adding that her grandmother was one of the thousands of ‘war brides’ who left Europe and settled in Canada in those years.
Pocock also has an interest in more closely exploring the experiences of the war brides in general who of course often left large urban centres such as London to build a new life in small prairie communities. It could prove challenging, but a strong, adventurous spirit certainly would have helped.
“My grandmother was the most optimistic person you have ever met – and she couldn’t say anything bad about anything. I also have the letters he wrote to her before they were married, and it’s just a sweet story about their lives. In most of his letters, he writes about his farm in Lacombe and the beautiful view he had. These letters are absolutely fantastic.”
Indeed – it’s this kind of material that can provide such tremendous inspiration for so many writing ventures.
“So even just locally, I think there some really interesting stories.”
Pocock said that for her, writing brings a sense of accomplishment.
“I think there’s a nice feeling to know that you’ve got (a particular story) saved. And of course anything you write comes from your own mind, so it may not be exactly the way it happened, but you do the best you can.”
As for those who might be interested in dropping by a meeting of the Lacombe Writers Group but who are feeling a bit shy, Pocock said they should get in touch with her personally. “I’d be very happy to take them under my wing, invite them to a meeting and help to get them familiar with it.”
Pocock also mentioned that for her, it’s a pleasure both to be part of the group and to help with planning things and encouraging others to join. Some folks are just getting their feet wet so to speak with stretching their writing muscles creatively. Others are much further along that path.
Either way, the Lacombe Writers Group offers plenty of support and inspiration. They’ve even held some public readings in an effort to share their works with a broader audience.
“I’ve met such marvellous writers.”
For more information about the Lacombe Writers Group, call Maureen Pocock at 403-885-4251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.