By Lisa Coleman-Brown
In September 2012 I got up the nerve to attend my first SWG meeting back in the days when we met at the YMCA. Everyone was welcoming and friendly, and I found out that members could be at any stage of their development not necessarily published yet, so I paid my $30.00 and joined.
I introduced myself and shared that I had writing ideas gestating in my mind since 1978 that I was struggling to finish such as a play about Fatty Arbuckle. At this first meeting of the 2012-2013 season there was an invitation to submit short stories for a group critiquing session during the October meeting. I volunteered and shared a couple of stories by email and received very helpful feedback from approximately 20 members which was an amazing experience and felt a bit like a bath by fire.
Vera Constantineau reached out and told me about a call for applicants to the Playwrights’ Junction, free 12 week workshop offered by the Sudbury Theatre Centre, “If you really want to get that play out of your head and on to the page give this a try” she encouraged. I applied and was one of 8 selected to participate out of a field of 18 applicants! At the end of the workshop in 2013 my one act play 2 Guys on a Wall, a comedy about building the Super Stack during the 1970 tornado, had a public reading by local actors.
Following the October critique session member Mat Del Papa, owner of “madcap publishing”, invited me to submit a horror story for his anthology Creepy Capreol. I wrote one and it was accepted and published in 2014. That same winter I read the newsletter email from the Guild and found out about the Laurentian University’s literary journal SULPHUR IV 2014 deadline, and submitted 2 Guys on a Wall which was accepted and became my first published piece!
In 2016 the SWG published their first anthology Sudbury Ink, and accepted two of my stories that had been critiqued back in 2012.
Earlier, in 2015, I collaborated with Mat Del Papa and we wrote a novella Nightmare at the North Pole commissioned as a fundraising companion to the Northern Ontario Railway Museum and Heritage Centre’s October Terror Train. This led to an invitation for us to write a radio play for them for a Covid-friendly drive-in haunt in 2020 which was performed on weekends for paying audiences, and qualified me for full membership to the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada where four of my plays are now available through their outlet.
Vera and I had fun collaborating on our short story The Night of the Meltdown which was published in SULPHUR IX in 2020, and Mat and I collaborated again on a short story The Worst That Could Happen published in SULPHUR X, 2021. This year I was also able to commission fellow Guild member Bonnie Mathieu, illustrator extraordinaire, to do cover art for two of my plays.
All of us Guild members generously read, critique, edit, and proofread each others work, and loyally provide moral support at public readings and book launches.
I feel a sense of accomplishment that I am able to include “Member of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild” on my CV which gives me confidence when I apply for arts grants, and is a source of pride in my writer’s bios for publications and submissions for publication.
As a direct result of the friendships and networking begun during September 2012’s Guild meeting I have since had 11 short stories, 4 limericks, 1 play, and 1 novella published, 4 plays available to the public, and 1 radio play produced – excellent value for 9 years of annual membership investment! That first membership’s dues is the best $30.00 I ever spent, and this year I am proudly serving the Guild community as Vice-President.