“I believe we all have stories to tell. I believe we are all writers,” said Eleanor Brown.
Her first novel, “The Weird Sisters,” was on The New York Times best-seller list and was also a Colorado Book Award winner. She also has published “WOD Motivation,” a fitness inspiration book, and has another book in the works. And she sets an example of arts as business.
Eleanor Brown moved to Highlands Ranch from Florida after a long teaching career and missed the interaction of the classroom. She has started a series of workshops and classes called Writers' Table, which she describes as “wonderful, safe spaces for people who have always wanted to write, but need a little support or structure to build a habit, or established writers who just want to be part of a supportive group.”
She speaks of members of different levels of experience in many sorts of writing: memoir, essays, short stories, blogs, poetry, novels. They come from Littleton, Golden, Denver, Parker, Castle Rock and elsewhere.
“I see the most incredible things happen around the table week after week — from self-discovery to breakthroughs in craft,” she said. She prefers a group of six to eight and limits group size to 10 for weekly sessions, which involve about half the time in informal discussion and the other half writing.
Writers are invited, but not required, to share. “This is not a critique group — we talk about what stands out — are not judgmental. You get over that hump,” Brown said. “We try to develop a writing practice outside of class.”
She is truly enthusiastic about her students, who surprise her often. “People say, `Oh, I just don't feel it today,' and produce the most incredible work.”
Her eight-week sessions are based on the Amherst Writers and Artists method. Workshops meet for two hours at Brown's home.
Participants talk about what they are noticing in a safe space. The Writers' Table draws people of all ages, perspectives, life experiences — and Brown feels that space in her Highlands Ranch home is more comfortable than a classroom.
While there is a dedicated room in her home, she encourages writers to head outside on the deck or into the dining room, if they wish, while in the writing phase of a meeting. “We are solitary together,” she said. (She writes too — and also gets stuck at times.)
“I offer a prompt at the beginning of every session — they can use it or not. Sometimes it fits — last night it was `gratitude.' Some writers want a more specific goal, such as `a novel in a month.' Many reach a point where they want some editing, and I can do that one on one.”
Brown send out two supportive emails a week. About the “I just don't have time” feeling, she suggests 15 minutes twice a day. Many have amazing projects and she advocates “giving yourself time, space and permission to write.”
She once taught middle-school students and hopes to get back into doing some work with kids because she misses them. She also teaches at times for the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver.
“Writing can be disconnected — between the writer and the reader, the community.” These sessions bring balance by meeting social needs.
She plans to offer future sessions on “social media for Writers — a different challenge.”
If you go:
Brown plans August mini-sessions (Tuesdays Aug. 5-26) and fall workshops starting in September. For information, see: thewriterstable.net/sessions or write: firstname.lastname@example.org.