The Whole Writer

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aliceAlice French, PhD, is a founding member of the Village Writing School and has been a co-editor of this newsletter since its inception. She has one published book about women and aging and has a novel in progress.

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No one needs to learn how to write. By the time most of us get out of high school, we’ve written multiple “themes” and even some research papers. We’ve learned the basics of sentence structure, grammar, and how to divide our writing into paragraphs.

Having those basic skills under our belt, we’re able to spend our free time for the rest of our lives writing stories and poetry that we can share with our friends and family. That life hobby brings satisfaction and fulfillment.

It’s possible to go further with our hobby. There’s a big wide world out there of ways to get better at writing. Marry your love of writing with your love of learning, and you will never run out of something to do.

I’ve gotten hooked on learning about writing. Some days, I’m overwhelmed with how much is available. On the internet, I have my regulars. I read Dan Blank, Joseph Michael, Jerry Jenkins, and Jane Friedman. Their blogs, websites, and classes are outstanding. Google any one of them.

Locally, I network with writers through the Village Writing School. They offer workshops, speakers, open mic sessions. One of the best ever literary libraries in the state resides at the Village Writing School, providing reading material on every conceivable aspect of writing.

Personally, I am inspired by my friends who are avid writers: Alison Taylor-Brown, Debbie Quigley-Smith, Nancy Harris, Jeanie Nance, Carol Martindale, Alan Lampe, Dan Baxter, Valerie Fondetti.

I don’t put to use nearly all the lessons I listen to. Much of what I hear at workshops is not directly relevant to anything I’m writing. But, all that information accrues. Soaks into my skin. It enriches me and broadens my general knowledge.

I have attended two recent workshops that stretched me. One was with the author of a book called Be the Gateway–Dan Blank. He actually Skyped in to talk with us about how to connect with readers. Imagine a New York author/guru chatting with little ole me and a few of my friends. The other opportunity was with an editor from New York, Denise Roy, who read my query letter and line-edited it. She took the time to fix my words! Unbelievable. The cost was truly minimal.

I don’t plan to make a splash in New York with my writing. I don’t plan to sell 10,000 books. I’ll be lucky to sell 100. But, I love the fact that I have the opportunity to continue learning about this my chosen field. I love that we are in an age where we can live in the splendid Natural State and still have access to the top teachers in the country.

I don’t need to tell you the value of lifelong learning. You already know. Just take a moment to ponder what a marvelous time we live in and how lucky we are to be writing today.

Accurate, Comprehensive, and Quick

If you’re like me, you learned to do google searches by the hunt & peck method. And, that works fine. However, while I was hunting and pecking the other day, I stumbled on an article entitled Ten Tips for Smarter, More Efficient Internet Searching.

Let me mention a few of the tips. You may or may not know these, but I’m guessing that out of the ten tips in the complete article, you’ll find at least one helpful item.

1. First of all, you don’t need to use capital letters. You can search for the Village Writing School as:
  • village writing school
  • village Writing School
You’ll get the same search results.
2. Second, you don’t need to use common words such as a and the.
3.  Usually, you can skip typing punctuation marks.4. Drop the suffixes. If you’re looking for writers, just type in writer. Novelinstead of novels, search instead of searches.

5. Use the plus sign. If you need something specific, use several key words joined together with a plus + sign. While working on my memoir, I searched for other similar books by typing memoir + polio. By doing that, I discovered a list of specific memoirs gathered into one list. (Thanks to our new member, Mary Hutson, for reminding me of this helpful tip.)

If you’d like more tips on the essential art of internet searching, go to the complete article in Tech Republic.

Healthy Happy Writers

Don’t we all go to writing workshops to learn something that will improve our writing? That’s why I attended my first writing workshop with the Village Writing School back in 2012.

May I tell you about the side effects?

Certainly, my writing has improved as a result of four years of workshops at VWS, both in Eureka Springs and in Rogers.

But the primary benefit has been something that occurred gradually and has value beyond any essay or novel that I can write.

I found a cherished social connection. VWS is like a home away from home for many writers. It’s a place to go when I don’t want to be alone. It’s a place to go when I need a hug. At VWS, I can always find a friend who’ll listen to my current writing problem and offer possible solutions.

VWS welcomes every new visitor, whether the person is a writer or a person is thinks they’d like to write. We have no requirements to be members of this community. What we offer, in addition to writing activities of all sorts, is a place of belonging. A place to make new friends.

*** The number one thing that keeps all people happy and healthy is being with other people. It helps us live longer. That’s a scientific fact, as far as I know ;-).


It’s guaranteed at VWS. We’re all smart and creative. Other than that, we are writers of all types—young, old, conservative, liberal, funny, serious, athletic, sedate, local residents and people from the larger region of NW Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. 

Come see for yourself.