The Write Women
Carroll & Venit are key to the Valley writing community
The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild has played a key role in connecting the many dedicated and talented writers who call this area home. Two of these writers are Jan Carroll and Katie Venit. Carroll is a poet who has been writing poetry off and on her whole life. Venit has a background in journalism but also has experience with academic writing and flash fiction. While their genres may differ, both of these women are advocates for the local writing community and seek to help writers of all levels – including new writers – grow in confidence and improve their craft.
New writers can face many hurdles when entering the world of writing. It is common to grapple with impostor syndrome, feelings of inadequacy, or to be intimidated about sharing writing publicly for the first time. Both Carroll and Venit strive to break down some of those hurdles and give people the space and permission to explore the craft they love.
"If you're a writer, then you've got to write. Give yourself permission." – Katie Venit, local writer
One way Venit does this is through Writers Anonymous, a group that meets at SHIFT Cyclery & Coffee Bar once a month. Everyone in attendance sits and writes together for an hour and then has the chance to talk about their writing (though nobody is obliged to share if they don’t want to). The group is open to anyone who wants to join; the only requirement is the ability to work quietly. Venit says that meeting regularly with a group gives people the opportunity to listen and ask questions in a setting that feels safe, and to begin to establish a consistent writing practice.
“The more you write, the more confident you’ll feel about writing,” Venit said.
Carroll also gives writers of different backgrounds a chance to grow with the 6x6 Reading Series. At 6x6, six readers share an original piece of writing for six minutes each. The events happen quarterly, and each event has a theme. Writers can only participate once, which gives new people the opportunity to have their work heard. Participation in 6x6 also includes a workshop prior to reading. Carroll says the workshop is a very supportive environment where all the writers are very gracious and helpful with each other.
“As a writer, it’s important to have encouragement, and it’s very powerful to have people in the community show up for readings,” Carroll said. “At 6x6, writers of various levels of experience all read together. The audiences have been great, and we so appreciate that!”
Writers Anonymous and 6x6 Readings are only two of the many opportunities for writers in the Chippewa Valley. Both Carroll and Venit emphasize the importance of community for writers, and encourage anyone who is interested to visit the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild website, where many of the local writing groups and opportunities are listed. The Writers Guild also hosts events which are open to anyone and give writers of all different ages and backgrounds the chance to meet and learn more about the craft.
When it comes to writing, both Carroll and Venit say writers should focus on the process of writing and the joy that comes from it: Even commercial success and recognition can’t compare with the magic of the writing process. “If you’re a writer, then you’ve got to write,” Venit says. “Give yourself permission.”
For those interested in learning more about the local writing community, including the 6x6 Reading Series, visit the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild website at cvwritersguild.org. Writers Anonymous meets the third Wednesday of the month at SHIFT. More information can be found at facebook.com/chipvalleywritersanonymous.