Friday, September 30, 2005

The PWLGC Effect

Last month, I told you about an enjoyable open house at one of my favorite civic institutions, the Poets and Writers League of Greater Cleveland, where I periodically
teach. You may recall that I also mentioned two of my blogger pals were there--Jeff Hess and Chas Rich, who expertly kept a close watch over the beer supply while chatting amiably on the porch. These guys have been busy ever since, scooping up attention, both local and national. On Monday, I told you about Chas being named a national finalist by the Online News Association (check out his reaction here). And now Scene Magazine, which not long ago drew the ire of some bloggers for a largely meaningless throw-away line about most local blogs being "banal," has just named Jeff Hess's as the best local weblog. Since the item's not online, here's what they said: may get more press, but Jeff Hess' is terabytes above the local competition. His daily posts remind the public of Cleveland controversies long after the local media gets bored and moves on. His continuing series on grassroots efforts to keep Wal-Mart from swallowing every Ohio town is fascinating and more in-depth than anything in the dailes. While this East Side educator's left-wing philosophy comes off as heavy-handed at times, he does his best not to take himself too seriously--he'll often post haiku or bumper stickers for a quick laugh, or links to weird news from around the world. If you're wondering what's happening behind the scenes in Cleveland or how our town is connected to national news stories, this site is a must-surf.
Of course, I'm mostly teasing about there being any relationship between their appearance at a PWLGC event and their winning awards and attention, but for me it does point up the importance of bloggers to get out of the blogger ghetto occasionally and be part of the larger writing community. It perhaps means dropping one's post-adolescent anger at the mainstream media (however well-deserved that is occasionally), but I can almost guarantee it will prove valuable in the end. And I know it's good for the region and its creative milieu to have all these sharp minds and warm souls mixing together more frequently. As it happens, there's another open house at the Literary Center in Fairhill this very evening, from 6:30 to 9:30 (directions are here). Dubbed Writer's Night out at the Lit, it offers the chance to rub elbows with some famous and not-so-famous names in the writing community, all for a mere $5 donation (which includes wine and other refreshments). Where else will you find a deal like that to kick off your weekend? Here's hoping both Jeff and Chas will be on hand again, along with lots more of my blogging, writing and journalism pals. Whether these fellows make it or not, we'll be raising a glass in celebration of their accolades.

Last-Minute Notice on Tomorrow's Writing Seminar. Sorry, I've been bad. The fall season has been packed with lots of writing, travel and speaking and teaching, and I haven't been good about telling you about any of the latter. Last week, I was at the Lakeland Community College semi-annual
writers conference, leading a session on how writers can better leverage the Internet. Earlier this month I did a two-evening class on deepening your craft at the PWLGC. Tomorrow, Saturday, I'll be speaking at an all-day writer's conference at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma. It's a special place for me, because the Jesuits have been a central influence shaping my life, my faith and my work. And since stumbling over this group, the (largely westside-based) Skyline Writers, last year when checking into the Retreat House as a venue for writing classes, I've become close friends with its president, Claudia Taller. By day, she's a high-powered legal talent who drafts the language governing giant corporate mergers, and in her off-hours she writes splendidly and generally follows the dictates of her hero Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way. In fact, Claudia and I had a chance to collaborate on something else recently, a radio appearance on a book-talk program (more about which later). Anyway, if you're free tomorrow and have an interest, do consider coming to this event. In fact, if you show up at the door and identify yourself as a friend of Working With Words, you'll receive a discounted registration.


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