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The Larksong Board

Thursday, August 26, 2021

These notes were handed out at the Open House on July 15th. We thought you might like to read them in case you didn’t make it to our event. Hope to see you at future ones!

Welcome to Larksong Writers Place! We hope this is the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship. We anticipated a few questions you might have and wanted to offer you some information as you wander around our new place. Of course, if you have other questions, don’t hesitate to ask one of the Larksong Board Members. They’re the ones wearing name tags on those snazzy yellow necklaces.

Q: What exactly is a “writers’ place”?

A: Excellent question! We admit we didn’t have a clear idea about what it was until we dove into the dream of creating one, and to be completely honest we’re still in the process of creating this one so the definition is evolving all the time. Here’s the formal answer as recorded in our Articles of Incorporation: “The specific purposes of the corporation are to create an educational literary center offering writing workshops, writing-related community events, individual manuscript consulting, networking events, co-working space to beginning to advanced writers, and general support for writing and writers.”

In just plain people speak, a writers’ place is a community where writers of all stages can find space to work and gather, people to work with and learn from, and a way to tap into the literary culture in the city of Lincoln and beyond.

Q: What will Larksong Writers Place offer?

A: Larksong has been offering writing classes online for about a year and sponsoring weekend writing retreats at various locations for the past five years. We will continue to offer those options, and we are expanding our offerings now that we have a physical location. See our brochure for specifics.

We admit, we’re nimble on our planning feet right now so if you have any literary writing needs don’t hesitate to send suggestions to us via our website! www.larksongwritersplace.org

Q: Are there any other places like this?

A: Yes, there are! All over the country, though we think we’re Nebraska’s first Writers’ Place. (If you know of any please let us know. We’re all stronger together.) We’re glad you asked this question so we can share links to the centers we look to for inspiration and guidance and help promote the writing network:

n  Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, CO https://www.lighthousewriters.org/

n  Hudson River Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY  https://www.writerscenter.org/

n  The Writers Place in Kansas City, MO https://thewritersplace.wildapricot.org/

n  Grub Street in Boston, MA https://grubstreet.org

n  Gotham Writers in NYC, NY https://www.writingclasses.com/

n  Write on Door County in Fish Creek, WI  https://writeondoorcounty.org/

Each of these centers were created to serve the needs of the community they’re in so no two are exactly alike. Larksong will reflect the needs of the community we’re in, both in Lincoln and on-line.

Q: Is everyone welcome at Larksong?

A: Another great question! You’re really getting the hang of this interview stuff! Yes, is the short answer to the question. Writers of any stage of development or interest are welcome. You don’t even have to think of yourself as a writer (yet) to find a place here. If you want to start writing or have been writing for years this is the place. If you don’t write at all but want to be included, you’re welcome here too. The public is invited to attend readings and book launches and other events that come up in this community. They can rent the office space or event space in the building. However, becoming a member of Larksong will convey several benefits that increase with the level of the membership.

Q: Wait, there’s a way I can actually join Larksong? I can become a member?

A: Yes! Yes you can! And we hope you do! Standard annual memberships will start at $60 a year. The Working Writer level will be $100 a year. Both levels will offer discounts for students and seniors. Additional “Friends of Larksong” levels will also be offered. The first benefits of all membership levels are use of the Open Writing Space during open center hours and discounts for classes, both in house and on-line. That’s about all we can tell you about the membership levels, not because we’re being secretive, but because we’re just getting started on all this and this is one particular aspect of creating a Writers Place that is still in process. (Hint: sign up for our newsletter and you’ll be kept informed of all things Larksong.) For those who can’t afford the membership fees we will have volunteer opportunities in lieu of payment.              

Q: Now that Larksong is in the neighborhood, when can we expect to see some action around here? Events I can attend? Classes I can take?

A: Let’s start with the last question first: you can start taking classes with Larksong right now! We have three on-line classes open for registration that will be held this summer and early fall. We have several more in the almost-ready-for-registration stage so keep an eye on our website for details – or sign up for the newsletter to stay informed. We do not have any in-house events or activities on the calendar yet, because, in part, we have a bunch of construction planned so, in answer to your first question – the action is starting soon, very soon. There’ll be people with trucks and hammers and such wandering in and out for a while so we’ll definitely have some action. At that point we will be at the mercy of the construction gods as to how soon we will be able to hold other events. If other factors don’t interfere (think Covid), we hope to hold classes in one of our lovely new workshops by October.

Okay, we’re not going to wait for you to ask if we’re happy to be here in Bethany in this fabulous old house, we’ll just tell you: We’re ecstatic to be here! We look forward to getting to know all of you, and to welcoming friends, old and new!

Is There a Place For a Writers’ Place In Lincoln?

Karen Shoemaker

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

At a few minutes after 9 a.m. on Monday, July 12, 2021, 1600 N. Cotner Blvd. in Lincoln NE became the official home of Larksong Writers Place. By about 10:30 a.m. I had changed out of my business clothes into my painting clothes and started the process of announcing our presence to the neighborhood by painting the front door of the former bank Larksong yellow. That’s not the official name of the paint, nor is “Color Us Happy to Be Here” but both seem appropriate to the mood.

On Thursday, July 15, the Larksong board hosted an Open House to invite the public to see where we were starting out and join us in dreaming and planning where we will go.

To be honest, I didn’t know how that event would play out. It’s true we have an on-line presence – we’ve been leading workshops via Zoom for more than a year and hosting weekend writing retreats for more than five – but to stake a claim on a physical space and say, “Here we are!” well, we didn’t know what to expect.

The Open House was scheduled from 4 to 7. I thought if all went well about 50 people would come through our doors. Fortunately, I was raised by a woman who prepared every get together with a backup plan to feed an army if they happened to show up, so I’m accustomed to overstocking treats and drinks. And boy am I glad I did! People started coming around 3:30 and they didn’t stop coming until after 7.

We don’t have an official tally, but by counting how many name tags were used and estimating how many people didn’t use tags, we feel pretty confident we had about 175 guests come through. Reports from the field (i.e. people who stood around outside when it got too crowded inside) said the parking lot was full, the streets around us were full, and people were walking blocks to get to us. It looked and felt like a party from start to finish!

We felt welcomed into our new home in the Bethany neighborhood and cheered on by the writing community. The dream that started it all felt as if it were coming true in ways that were better than the dream itself. We are so happy to be here.

Our question: is there really a need for a writers’ place in Lincoln? Seemed to be answered with a resounding yes!

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Larksong is committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a donation.