Debbie Croft: Mariposa writers publish anthology of personal stories

November 2, 2012 

DEBBIE CROFT

An anthology is a published collection of literary works, including poems, essays, short stories and such.

A group of writers in Mariposa recently published its first book: "Mariposa Writers Present ... Anthology 2012." More than 300 pages are filled with thoughts, emotions, daydreams and real life experiences from about a dozen contributors.

The group doesn't have an impressive name or a complicated agenda. They're just a bunch of people with one thing in common: They like to write. Meetings are a time to share their original stories and memoirs. After a member finishes reading, other members make comments.

"I liked your description of the room being dismantled and what was found underneath the layers," one member told JoAnn Oswald, a self-published author.

"For me the writing group has been the place where I've grown and discovered that I do have a talent," Oswald says.

Through their encouragement, she published her autobiography, about a redeemed life and finding unconditional love. Her book is available from Xulon Press. She's working on the sequel.

In the preface of "Anthology," Michelle Stone wrote, "Some of us have published work, some are self-published, and some just love to write on a personal level ... It doesn't matter what level of writing each individual brings to our sessions. We are all the richer for it."

Stone is a published author of science fiction. She joined the group earlier this year, and was instrumental in getting "Anthology" into print.

"We changed the title 12 times before we came up with something we all liked," Stone says.

"Anthology" is available for purchase at Amazon.com.

According to Stone the group has helped her a lot. "You can't believe how much positive and critical feedback I get."

Critiques are given kindly to help clarify or enhance the narrative.

Marcele Price has written since she was 8 years old and was first published at 18. Four of her poems are in the book.

"I've just always felt compelled to write," she says.

Carmen Mecleary joined the group two years ago for a different reason.

"I had no confidence. I didn't know where to begin," she says. While attending meetings for the first month or so, she just sat and listened. But with her daughter's nudging she began writing about her own life, and sharing with the group.

"I slaughter the English language," says Mecleary. "I know I need help with keeping things in the right tense, and I tend to be too wordy."

Spending this time with other writers has taught her how to be more descriptive. She's also learned to take the risk of expressing her feelings on paper. Now she can't stop writing.

Dance, theater and wilderness adventures filled Julie Howard's young life in various parts of the Western states. Her passion is preserving wildlands and rivers and saving the critters that inhabit them. After spending 20 years in Merced, she now lives at the end of a dirt road on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and the peace of wild things.

What's read is always kept in confidence, and exercising self-control is important. No pet peeves or political griping allowed. No officers or membership dues, either. Members rotate the responsibility of acting as facilitator at meetings.

Some refer to it as a writers workshop. They follow a few simple guidelines, but most of all they write and share. While learning and improving their own skills, they're also affirming those of fellow members.

Other contributors to "Anthology" are: George Tuthill, Sallee Lang, Bev Kauffman, James C. Landis, Donna Marks, Lowell Young, Helen "the Felon," Lupe Becerra and Teresa Inell Scott.

Currently the group is full, but those interested in being notified when there is an opening may contact Julie Howard at juliana2h@yahoo.com.

"We have something we'd like to say and we write a story to say it," Howard concludes.

For a group of nonprofessional writers, they do a fairly decent job.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at composed@tds.net.

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