By Amy Falkofske
Where can writers find support from other writers in the Prince William Area? One answer is Write by the Rails.
Founded in 2011, WbtR, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers’ Club, seeks to “assist, educate, promote and encourage the literary community, specifically writers of all levels,” according to Katherine Gotthardt, Founding Member and current President.
“We help writers of various genres find their voice while they are given support from the group,” she said. “I think we need to recognize that writing can be a rather solitary endeavor, and that it’s important to network with other writers … We need to cheer each other on, celebrate one another’s successes and help each other through the rough spells.”
Many of those writers who have weathered the storm have gone on to become published authors who give back to the community by taking part in public readings, donating books to local libraries and schools, and conducting workshops.
Currently, WbtR is running Poems Around Town, a program that places poetry in public places. The goal is to get residents and visitors to stop and read a short piece of writing they wouldn’t otherwise look at. All of the poems have been written by WbtR members.
“These efforts are born from what our members are drawn to do, but at its core, Write by the Rails is there to serve writers who in turn go on to serve the community,” said Gotthardt.
A Variety of Opportunities
WbtR holds biannual workshops in the spring and fall. These are low-cost (under $50) educational programs for writers 18 years of age and older. “These workshops include speakers, time to write, networking, book sales and more,” said Gotthardt.
Guest speakers discuss topics of interest to writers such as publishing, marketing, writer’s block and finding an agent. To sign up for these events, go to wbtr.org.
WbtR also holds monthly enrichment programs for its members who want to “further their learning and practice their skills,” according to Gotthardt. These events are held the second Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. at various local venues. Some months there is a guest speaker. Other months there may be write-ins or critique sessions for writers to share their work and get feedback. Past events have included a write-in on the Metro and one at the McCall Studio Gallery in Manassas. “Sometimes just a change of atmosphere can be what it takes to kick start creativity and motivation needed for writing,” said Gotthardt.
Amy Falkfoske ([email protected]) is a freelance writer and photographer. She has a Master’s degree in Film-TV with a concentration in screenwriting. She lives in Bristow with her husband, two boys and two Beagle dogs.