Welcome to our November 2019 blog series, where we’re highlighting some of Indy Hall’s micro-communities! These are just a sampling of the various and vibrant smaller communities that exist within the larger Indy Hall family. Some of them take place entirely online, some of them only in person, and a mix, too.
This week we will be highlighting Indy Hall’s thriving writing community!
Writing Opened the Door
As a storyteller, one of my favorite things to do is to make connections. I love to look at life and plot outlines much in the same way. This lead to that, which resulted in this… you get the idea. And when I look back at how I got involved with Indy Hall in the first place, the connection is clear. It was because of writing.
It all started with a tweet back in March. Indy Hall member and literary agent Eric Smith tweeted about a publishing workshop that would be taking place here through Philly writing organization BlueStoop. Up until that point, I didn’t really know much about Indy Hall beside the fact that it was a coworking place that existed. But from the minute I walked past the JURRASIC PARK “Welcome to Indy Hall” sign, I could tell… this was a place where creative magic could happen.
That writing workshop, which was specific to YA authors like myself, was merely the first plot point in what has become an incredible journey. I’ve come to find that not only was IH a hub for workshops to help writers flourish, it was also somewhere that provided invaluable resources to writers across the Philly region.
Sending the Elevator Down
That very same agent I mentioned, Eric, also happens to be the organizer behind a group called Penn’s Landing, through which he hosts semi-monthly meet-ups known affectionately as “brain picks”.
It is no secret that those trying to break into the publishing industry face a lot of rejection and hardship, with marginalized writers facing even more challenges. Eric’s events here at the Hall seek to give an industry insider’s insight and pull back the curtain so that writers can ask their burning questions. When asked about why he started them, he said…
“I started doing them when my wife and I had moved to Virginia, and then again when we were living in Michigan. An agent friend of mine, Beth Phelan, does them regularly in NYC, as a way to help making publishing more accessible. Because it isn’t, it’s a tough business to get direct answers about. No one was really there to give me the answers I needed when I was trying to break into the industry and work on my writing, so this lets me do that for other people. And here in Philly!”
Having attended two of these events, I can attest to what an invaluable experience each of them has been. As a querying writer who has written draft after draft and still feels like I might never make it, being able to talk casually with someone who is part of the industry gives me a hope that’s so intense, it fills my whole heart. And when I asked Eric to sum up his hope for the future of publishing, it sounded to me a lot like an attitude I see reflected throughout Indy Hall as a whole.
“Keep opening up doors, and sending the elevator down.”
Making Room for Words
Most recently on the Indy Hall writing scene has been the presence of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) of which I’m one of the regional organizers. The event takes place during the month of November and encourages participants to try and write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
Every Friday night in November, our group has taken over the gallery to participate in word sprints (productivity bursts done as a group to see how much you can write in a set amount of time) and encourage one another to our work in progress novels.
Some folks have already finished their word goals and have been coming for fun, while others are still struggling to reach their word goals. But everyone that has walked through the door has been able to accomplish something new thanks to the incredible creative space that Indy Hall provides.
Hearing writers say things like, “I got my new personal best word count done at this write in!” is something that gives me so much hope and joy. It reminds me of the feeling that overwhelmed me my first weekend here for that life-changing writer’s workshop. It’s that feeling of, “this is a space where I can tell my story.”