Works in progress

Writers meet weekly at the Depot to help others improve their pieces


— The writers' group, a writing workshop sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, doesn't belong to anyone. It's not an exclusive group, and there is no set membership. It's simply serious writers who respect each other's work. The participants welcome people with open arms and open minds. Everyone shares the same goals: to improve their writing and finish projects.

The workshop meets every Thursday for about two hours at the Art Depot. While sitting around a table, each participant reads a piece of their writing. Expect to hear constructive comments, but never worry about feeling ridiculed.

Those are the ingredients that have made the workshop of one of the longer-running Arts Council groups in Steamboat Springs. Since 1983, the writers' group has been meeting each week to listen and comment about writing.

"It's fantastically important," regular group member Gyongyi said.

She has penned an autobiography and a book about Genghis Khan.

"You learn from the people," she said.

The comments are qualified. Most of the writers at the workshop are working on books and many of the writers have been published.

In the past year, three major books were published that were first workshopped by the group: "View From the Folding Chair," by Mickey Miller; "Slim to None," by D. Hubbard; and "In the Shadow of Dragons," by Kathleen Cunningham Guler.

Guler's book is the second in a four-part series called the Macsen's Treasure Series. She's working on the third book, which she read a portion of on Thursday at the workshop.

"This is very important to me," she said of the workshop. "The diversity of this group is fantastic."

Harriet Freiberger leads the workshop most the time, but she is quick to say she is not the leader of the group. She said the emphasis is always placed on the writers, their work and what the group can contribute to each piece.

"The main thing about it is that we are diverse and we learn from each other," Freiberger said.

Though most of the writers in the group are working on books, Freiberger said poetry, personal essays and journal entries are often read.

Karen Leslee has come to the workshop since 1996 and mostly writes poetry.

"I really have learned about tone, style and structure here," she said. "And I really get to know these people, who have become friends."

The workshop goes from noon to 2 p.m. every Thursday. Afterward, several members of the group adjourn to Off the Beaten Path Bookstore for coffee and more frank discussions about writing.

"This is the other half of the writers' workshop," Cade Swinger said.

Swinger is working on a book and writes poetry, which he shares at the workshop.

Over coffee, the writers discuss their work, other writings, getting published, politics and just about anything else that comes to the table.

"For a small group, it's extremely effective," Cesare Rosati said at the bookstore.

Rosati also is working on a book. He said for how small the group is, usually about 15 people, the number of works published after going through the workshop is impressive.

Plus, he said the group is gently honest, which is an asset to a writer.

"We find a way to tell you to change something without saying that your book sucks," Rosati said.


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