Two Wednesdays a month a handful of cars turn off County Road 6 and make their way west on Rd. 63, West Grey, to the MacMillan residence, just after 7 p.m. These cars contain the members of the Ink and Cookies Writers and they originate from such far flung places as Dundalk, Durham, Fordwich, Palmerston, Arthur and Mount Forest. The people are gathering to hone their skills at writing and to enjoy a few culinary treats.
It is a long-surviving group, having been started by the students of a night school class at Norwell District Secondary School in Palmerston, after their course ended, sometime in the 1980s. Trudy MacMillan is the last participating member from that original group and currently hosts the bi-monthly meetings. At one time the group wore tee shirts proclaiming they were Tri-County Writers but when Tri- County no longer accounted for all members the name change occurred. Everyone now seems happy to be called Ink and Cookies and the old tee shirts have been scrapped.
The group first became known to me about 1995 and, at that time, the meetings were held at Don and Marion Keith’s home in Mount Forest. Don phoned me because he knew I had been trying to write a novel based on an ancestor’s alleged exploits. I went once to listen and became hooked. When the Keiths moved out of the area no one wanted to see the group fold and Trudy graciously offered her home for the meetings.
The Ink and Cookies Writers are a non-critiquing group. The members listen and offer encouragement, but never criticize. Everyone has different ambitions, but share a love for playing around with words. We learn when we see the success of others and unashamedly steal ideas of how to express ourselves better.
The membership varies from year to year with changing life fortunes. It has encompassed university students and members near ninety years of age. Some have been prolific authors and some contest chasers. Some have been meticulous in their research and others rely on a vivid imagination. Some write for publishers, some for family and some for the sheer joy of writing. There have been humorists, historians, genealogists, poets, writers concentrating on child readers or pet lovers, and mystery junkies. In short it is a varied group.
The meetings have developed a format. Someone will start a story, a mystery, a love story, an adventure or what have you and write a few pages. Then it is passed on to the next person who adds a couple of pages and again passes it on. Some of the stories have gone around the group three times before being brought to an end. Then a new story is started. At each meeting the first order of business is for the current story holder to read his contribution and, if necessary, show how it ties in with past installments. Then the story is passed on to the next volunteer. Rarely has anyone asked not to be a contributor.
Following the continuing story each takes a turn reading his homework assignment. Yes, we have homework. The person who brings the lunch also assigns the homework and the topics can be extremely varied. Recent assignments have included; a story inspired by the word anomaly; an acrostic story beginning with the sentence, “A cat really does have nine lives’; True Snow Adventures; and school sports. The varied responses to a common topic always generate much discussion.
During this discussion we move to the dining room table for a break with treats and that is where the cookies part of our moniker originated. Everyone joins in and we only go back to the living room when the cookies are consumed or the alarm clock informs us that we must get back for our 15-minute write. The same assigner throws out a topic for a quick write that must be completed in 15 minutes and assigns the homework for the next meeting. We read our ‘writes” and before calling it an evening make sure the person on assignments and cookies for the next meeting is aware of his or her turn.
To a person, we rearrange lives and cancel other meetings so as not to miss a single gathering of Ink and Cookies and we have always been welcoming to the curious.
Submitted by Royden McCoag for the Ink and Cookies Writers.
For more information on the Ink and Cookies Writers call Trudy MacMIllan 519-323-2429.