“It’s amazing to consider that on August 20, people will form writing friendships that could change their lives and literary careers forever. When you take a moment to realize the power and beauty of this fact, you touch the core of why we are working so hard to bring the Writers Family Reunion and all our events into being.”
–Elizabeth White-Olsen, Founder & Director, Writespace
Here at the Writers’ League of Texas, we love to highlight other literary organizations throughout the state that are doing great work. On Saturday, August 20, Writespace, located in Houston, Texas, is hosting their first Writers’ Family reunion. Writers’ League members can sign up for the event at a reduced rate. Read the interview below for more details on Writespace, the event, and how to receive your WLT member discount.
Scribe: Tell us about Writespace and the kinds of programming you offer.
Elizabeth White-Olsen: Writespace is Houston’s new writing center. We are a new grassroots literary arts organization whose programming is run mainly by a tremendous volunteer effort. We are this uprising of literary passion that has blossomed in the heart of the city. People say it’s amazing how much we are doing, but we can’t seem to keep ourselves down. To this end, we offer writing workshops, write-ins, manuscript consultations, readings, and open mics to writers of all ages, backgrounds, experience levels, and genres.
Scribe: At the Writers’ League, we love learning about thriving literary communities throughout Texas. What are some of your favorite aspects of the Houston literary community?
EWO: My favorite aspect of the Houston literary community is our diversity. I love that you can go to a Public Poetry reading and hear someone read a highly refined, quiet poem about a seashell and then hear a slam poet share a poem about overcoming abuse at high volume a few minutes afterward. Houston is diverse, and its literary culture reflects our diversity.
Scribe: Writespace is hosting an event called “Writers Family Reunion” on August 20. Can you tell us more about where the idea for this event came from?
EWO: In early spring we host a large literary festival that has a national focus—Writefest. We had such a blast hosting Writefest that we wanted to host another large event, but one quite different. Whereas Writefest is designed to draw both local and distant writers, the Writers Family Reunion is purely local. What we seek to offer and express through the Writers Family Reunion is that, as writers, we belong to the same family, even if we haven’t yet met. Our passion ties us together. We are united in our goal of the literary endeavor, and we can learn from one another, regardless of differences in genre, age, background, and experience level.
Scribe: The event includes free morning programming and ticketed afternoon programming. Tell us about the critique group speed dating portion of the program.
EWO: We’re insanely excited to be offering critique group speed dating, which has never happened in Houston. During speed dating, writers will get to meet each other based on similarities in genre, experience level, and geographic location—a necessity in Houston, to keep people’s drive times down. We’re also extremely excited to be offering small group critiques and Q&A’s with our professional writers. And by small, we mean that the highest number in these groups will be six! Writers who attend will get the personal and specialized attention that I think we all crave. It’s amazing to consider that on August 20, people will form writing friendships that could change their lives and literary careers forever. When you take a moment to realize the power and beauty of this fact, you touch the core of why we are working so hard to bring the Writers Family Reunion and all our events into being.
Scribe: Besides the Writers Family Reunion, what other upcoming Writespace programs should Houston-area writers put on their calendars?
EWO: Holy cow, Writefest. Writefest. Writefest! Writefest is our annual literary journal fair, and there’s no other event like it in the country. It’s an opportunity for new and experienced writers to meet journal editors from around the nation—last year, we had thirty journals represented by their staff, including the editor of McSweeney’s. Literary journals are a great way for writers to begin—in fact, they’re the way most writers DO begin. So many great writers have been discovered by agents who find one of their short stories or essays published in a journal. But, of course, journals aren’t just some kind of stepping-stone to publishing and selling books. First-and-foremost, they are works of art in-and-of themselves, regardless of their role in literary life and in the marketplace.
Mark your calendars for Writefest on March 6th-12th in 2017! The weekend journal fair is packed with panels, presentations, and readings and it’s preceded by four days of intimate literary fiction, speculative fiction, poetry, flash fiction, and memoir workshops. Last year everyone raved about the event on social media channels, and it’s going to be even better in 2017.
Writers’ League of Texas members can use the code WLTMEMBER to receive $15 off the ticket price. Visit the Writespace website to purchase your ticket.