PLAINFIELD – Writing can be a lonely endeavor, but connecting with like-minded people helps inspire and re-energize someone stuck on a project, said Michelle Roubal, head of reference and reader services at the Plainfield Public Library.
Over the next few months, Plainfield Public Library will host a series of writing workshops, programs and events, all culminating with participation in National Novel Writing Month in November.
Aspiring writers not only will learn from local experts but also will become part of a writers community in which people can gain support and feedback, Roubal said.
“Libraries have always been a second home for writers,” Roubal said. “We wanted to encourage that relationship and build on it.”
Roubal said the library tries to provide a full range of opportunities, and the workshops are varied in topic.
“We’re not just focusing on creative writing,” Roubal said. “There’s professional writing, too – resumes, college applications and technical writing.”
Elizabeth Geib of Plainfield has been the library’s writing tutor and has led many of these workshops, such as the April 28 poetry writing workshop she will host.
Geib, who graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in English literature, has extensive experience tutoring students of all ages on a wide range of writing ventures – knowledge she gained while tutoring at Western’s writing center.
Geib said that while she minored in creative writing, she has found she particularly enjoys helping people with professional writing. Her goal is to run her own writing center.
“A lot of times, people get discouraged with cover letters and resumes,” Geib said. “I like giving them that reassurance.”
A place to share
Meeting with someone to talk about writing gives students a chance to get their work out in the open and receive feedback, Geib said.
“I think, sometimes, writing can be intimidating. Sometimes, people don’t get their work out there in the way they would like to because there isn’t a place to share it,” Geib said. “Sessions like the ones I conduct allow people to share their work.”
One place creative writers can share their work is the Plainfield Writers Group. The group – also known as the Tri-County Writer’s Guild – meets at the Plainfield library on the third Tuesday of every month.
David Bocian is the head of the Plainfield Writers Group and has been a part of the group since it began in 2003. Attendance varies; eight a month is average, with 30 writers on the mailing list, Bocian said.
No dues are collected, and anyone is welcome to drop in. In addition, the group has published two books of fictional short stories and is working on a third.
The self-published book has been a traditional printed anthology so far, although Bocian said the group this year is considering tapping into the e-book market.
Bocian said publishing was important not just as an ego boost but also to help writers hoping to publish their work elsewhere. For instance, one group member published an audiobook of his short story.
While the group puts no limits on the types of writing allowed, Bocian said most group members write short fiction. Others dabble in poetry, young adult fiction, children’s books and song writing.
For him, one of the best parts of the group is the chance to bounce ideas off other writers and provide feedback to them.
“The best thing that we do is encourage people,” Bocian said.
Bocian said group feedback can help writers work through issues and fine-tune stories by adding dialogue and description to finesse the pace and feel of their work.
“We’ve had stories come in, and we’re able to say, ‘This is really good, but it feels a little rushed here, maybe you can thresh it out a little bit,’ ” Bocian said. “Or, ‘It got really slow here, so maybe focus on something else.’ Whatever we think people can use, we provide.”
Bocian said one of the most rewarding feelings for him as a writer is completing a story and seeing that he clearly communicated what he intended. He wants other writers to experience that, too.
“To be able to see a story and say, ‘Yes! That is exactly what I had in mind,’ is the greatest feeling,” Bocian said.
Geib will leave in June to pursue a master’s degree. Roubal encourages other local writers interested in volunteering their expertise to contact the library.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The Plainfield Writers Group, Poetry Workshop
WHEN: 7 to 8:30 p.m, third Tuesday of every month (writers group) and 6:30 p.m. April 28 (poetry workshop)
WHERE: 15025 S. Illinois St., Plainfield
ETC: All of the writing programs at the Plainfield Public Library are free and open to the public.
The Plainfield Public Library is offering six-week online Gale Courses in business writing, creative writing, grant writing and publishing. New sessions begin monthly and are free to Plainfield library cardholders.
Also available with a Plainfield library card is HelpNow, an online resource offering a range of writing assistance. Upload resumes and receive an edited version within 24 hours or connect with an online tutor using the live help feature.
For information, call 815-327-2515 or visit www.plainfieldpubliclibrary.org.