2014/10 — Gary McLouth

PRESIDENT’S LETTER # THREE from Gary McLouth to the GCWA membership.
October 15, 2014
Are you anxious about participating in the critique groups this coming Saturday? I suspect we all are but for different reasons. Some of us who consider ourselves novices face the fear of exposing our inadequacies to others. Some of us are unaccustomed to showing our work to others who might be strangers. And, others of us can’t wait to have our brilliant work praised by other writers who may know how difficult it is to be brilliant. I’d guess that there’s some of each feeling in everyone, and that we will find ways to mask those feelings. If you show up for the workshop, you’ll see what happens with other writers, and you’ll get insight into your writer-self, too.

It might help us to slip into our writer-selves during workshops. After all, taking direct criticism is not pleasant or even tolerable for some of us. If my writing is taking a hit, am I taking a hit? Well, that depends on whether it’s my writing or me that’s not “quite right for us at this time.” It’s really hard to get the separation established between the work and the self, but it’s got to be done, and we can do it with practice. That’s what a workshop can do, give us practice at giving and taking, provide practice at limning the boundaries between “it,” “them,” and “you.”

As most of you know, we will be meeting in a new venue in November with plans to sign a contract for 2015. Details about the location and mission of the UUCFM appear on the GCWA website, and I encourage you to peruse them.

Why move? For one reason, the executive board has done its duty to further the stability of the organization, and that means a consistent and dependable meeting place. Another reason has to do with securing a facility that offers the potential for expanded internal programming and higher community awareness. In November, we will have the opportunity to experience the new environment. I encourage you to send your reactions and responses to Judy Loose at the GCWA website.

So, we have a couple of challenging monthly meetings ahead of us. I’m anxious to see what happens.

Gary McLouth, President GCWA

2014/8 — Gary McLouth

PRESIDENT’S LETTER # TWO from Gary McLouth to the GCWA membership.

August 5, 2014

The myths of summer—breezy love—lake waters—ocean shores—mountain vistas—world travel destinations—writers conferences—time to read—old friends visit—new friends party—relatives appear from somewhere else, and you’re wondering if you can or should get some writing done. I don’t know about you, but I can rightfully claim that too much has been happening in my life to even think about writing. But, guess what I’m thinking about?

Summer used to be a time for me to disappear into my writing self, whether I was alone or with somebody. Mountain retreats, stuffy city apartments, Amtrak trips and even a visit or two to a writer friend’s cabin fueled the notion that I was working in self-sacrificing, writer fashion. That was then; this is now, and nothing has changed. When I’m not literally writing, I’m writing in my head, if you know what I mean. Seeing, hearing, feeling and tasting the natural and human environment around me constantly challenges me to describe things. Words, phrases, snippets of dialogue flip through my mind, often amid conversation with others. Sometimes, conversation in my head gets mixed up with the dialogue in live progress. Who’s to say creative types don’t exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia?

Which, while I’m thinking of it, gets me to the point of asking how your summer is going, which in turn gives me the opportunity to tell you how my summer is going. That’s if I can tell a story about it that stimulates your interest, and garners your commitment to stay with it until the end. I guess it doesn’t matter what my summer story is about as long as I can establish a context where people do and think things in ways that spike your curiosity and solicit your involvement in their lives. Sounds a little formulaic, but I do believe that writers without readers are accountants.

When readers tell me I write well, it boosts my confidence and shines my ego, but when one asks me why I don’t write “my” story, I don’t know what to say. Everything I write comes from me whether it’s me or not. A major component of “my” story is learning how to write stories. And, a key to writing stories is listening to reactions from readers, and paying attention to what you’re not paying attention to.

For instance, I showed a story to a non-writer colleague of mine a while ago. The story involved a juicy romance and a bizarre highway chase game. What did he get from the story? The name of the highway and the definition of “limited access.” At first, I was dumbfounded, and then I realized he appreciated those accurate, factual descriptions. It was a quick lesson in why the writer has to get the facts right when using material from the real environment.

2014/6 — Gary McLouth

Gulf Coast Writers Association

President Gary McLouth
President’s Letter # 1
June 2, 2014

GWCA Colleagues,

It’s a challenge, a privilege, an opportunity and an honor to be your president. For one thing, I get to practice that hallowed form of expostulatory rhetoric dunned by Facebook, Twitter, Hither and Yon. For another, it reminds me that there’s always something to write when I don’t feel like writing. Deadlines treat writer’s block without prejudice. And, I admit that I’ve extended my deadline on this missive by a number of days. I recall the words of a former boss: “Don’t explain; don’t complain.” Yeah, but…

Our last two meetings have been well organized and thoughtfully programmed. I see this as the signature of our executive board’s ability, and I sense that the GCWA is building momentum as an influential force for the writing arts in SW Florida. It is not by chance that we gather at this fountain, seeking to rededicate ourselves to the service of our muses. I am always conscious of those I’ve learned from and those I’ve admired in my writing life, and I know you’ve gained inspiration from one, or many, on your way here. We owe them our best efforts to be as good to our craft as they were good to theirs. A minute of silence might remind us that we are not here alone.

At this writing, I feel like lighting fires in the smoldering hearts of poets and writers, mounting the plays of dramatists, and burnishing the scripts of film makers. After a life of striking matches, I feel fortunate to have fanned flickering lights of promise from time to time. The Gulf Coast Writers Association gives us all the opportunity to make some light, and striking together, we can glow.

“First in the heart is the dream/then the mind starts seeking a way”
Langston Hughes from Freedom’s Plow, Vintage Bks. 1959

2013/3 — Tom Nelson

Two years ago I was humbled to be placed in the office of President. Now that term comes to an end and I wish to thank the association for the opportunity to serve you.

While I approached this position with fear and trepidation at that time, now as I reflect back I can truly say this has been one of the joyous experiences of my retirement years. I look out at the faces of our organization and feel that I know each and everyone one of you personally and would not hesitate to call you, “my friend.”

As Gulf Coast Writers enters into its eighteenth year and our numbers approach two hundred, the organization has many strengths: Continuing educational programs provide the interest to bring new and old members to the monthly meetings as wintertime attendance flirts around the one hundred mark. Special events such as the recent Lee County Reading Festival, which provided a venue to not only present GCWA to the public, but allowed twenty-two authors to engage in book signing competition. Likewise, last fall a similar opportunity presented itself to our authors at the Alliance for the Arts event. GCWA’s own 2012 writing contest winners will be announced today with cash prizes totaling $525. Other outlets for our member’s creativity continue to be highlighted on our web page.

If I was to have any regrets, it would be that we were unsuccessful with our efforts to promote the Play Script genre in the annual writing contest these past two years. Thank you to those who submitted their work; let’s not give up.

Many have contributed to the success of these programs this past year. Your dedication to the ongoing success of our organization is deeply appreciated. Along with the entire membership, you of the Corporate and Executive Boards know your valued contributions and to you I say, “Well done.”

Check out our GCWA website at www.gulfwriters.org, it has a revised look with a new calendar where members can post their own events. Our photographer, Denise Holbrook is now posting the photos from meetings and events to our Facebook page. And thanks to Denise, along with Michelle James and Barbara Burnett who have lent helping hands to our webmaster this year. Good news––through threat and bribe, we have convinced webmaster, Judy Loose, to continue on in this position for the immediate future.

Our bank balance is in excellent shape at over $12,000. Two years ago annual dues were reduced to $25. One future challenge for us is to find ways to reduce this balance to a more reasonable amount for a non-profit organization. The board will solicit ideas for such future programs. Perhaps investing in scholarships for young school age writers to pursue their writing careers would be one.

This month will see the “retirement” of Jan Niemen from duties as hospitality lady after many years. Thanks to her organizational talents no one has ever gone hungry from our Saturday morning affairs. Thank you so much Jan.

After many years, Joe Pacheco will be retiring from the Executive Board. Joe, your past dedication is sincerely appreciated. Due to conflicts with her work schedule, Linda Kruleski will be giving up her membership duties on the board. My personal thanks to both of you.

Both the Corporate and Executive committees have been generous with their support to me these past two years. Without them I would not be calling this a joyous experience. Thanks to all of you.

With best of regards,
Tom Nelson.