Updated: Jul 21
If you tuned in to the July 11th podcast you heard us mention Ginger Collins. She is the founder of the local writing group Alleghany Writers (AW). This group connects writers across all genres in the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond.
Photo of Writer and AW Founder
I will never forget the first time I met Ginger Collins. She stood out not just for her hair, but for her fiery go-getter attitude and strong leadership background that matched.
Ginger is from Atlanta, Georgia, "by way of Philadelphia, Columbus, Huntington, West Virginia, and Toledo, Ohio." This writer and writing group founder also admits that she is as old as she needs to be to fit any occasion (ha-ha).
A graduate of Marshall University Ginger has stories that can be found in multiple anthology publications such as Scratch 2008.
"In addition to Silverboomers Anthology and Freckles to Wrinkles, Ginger's short stories have been published in LunchHour Stories Literary Magazine and Writers Advice. The personal essay, "Reason to Believe"appears in the Voices of Alcoholism healing companion from LaChance Publishing. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cincinnati Inquirer, Cruising World, and LivingAboard."
Before moving to Alleghany County, NC, Ginger served as a member, Vice-Chair, and eventually Programming Chair of the Atlanta Writers Club. But it was as a sports editor for her high school newspaper when Ginger says she fell in love with writing after seeing her name in ink for the first time.
"My entire career was spent writing, copywriting for ad agencies, press releases for PR agencies, and every type of technical writing in between. I spent years writing for others. It wasn't until my husband gifted me with early retirement that I had the chance to write for myself."
It's important that writers, poets, or even bloggers have support. We can draw support from countless places, but family and friend support is always an added bonus. For Ginger that support comes from her husband Melvin. "Melvin has never questioned time spent in workshops, conferences, and hanging out with my writing buddies."
Her favorite literary genre to read is fiction and Ginger admits "I'm a sucker for lush language and sensory descriptions." When The Writing Wall Blog caught up with her she was reading News From Spain a collection of short stories by Joan Wickersham. She said she also highly recommended One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain too. "Not only because it is a beautiful book, but because Bren will be in Sparta, North Carolina on September 24th."
Alleghany Writers host multiple writing group activities, experiences, and readings throughout the year. Ginger said this group is a "collection of writers, readers, and those who appreciate the literary arts. Our vision is to create a rural enclave for the literary arts and to pursue writing opportunities for adults and students in our Appalachian area."
With over fifty active members this blogger can honestly think of no better place to do that than right here in Appalachia.
"The more people write, the more people read. The more people discuss, the more a community develops into a unique place to live, work, and grow."
Currently, this group is working on a campaign titled Alleghany Writes Through the Pandemic. AW is encouraging everyone to record the changes in their life caused by the pandemic as a way to process the new transitions in daily life. Journaling has been around for centuries and so much of World History is understood through the eyes of those recorders. A good example is The Diary of Anne Frank.
You're probably wondering if Ginger is working on a book. The answer is yes. Ginger told The Writing Blog she has a WIP (work in progress) titled What You Don't Know and it is considered a book-club fiction.
Aside from the events and workshops, Ginger said the best experience she has had with the Alleghany Writers take place during their meetings. "I always smile at meetings when I see a group of people who are so different still connect so strongly through the stories they write. But so far, nothing beats that day last February when John Claude Bemis did a creativity session for the county's middle-school students. There were 720 students in the Alleghany Community Auditorium. You could feel the energy."
Did I mention that several guest authors have toured our local schools during their visit to encourage and inspire writing across the curriculum? Well, they do and it's all thanks to AW.
Support for such a group can be a challenge, but Ginger Collins and members of the Alleghany Writers board put a lot of their hearts and souls into ensuring it exists for local writers. "Our operations are financed by members' dues. Workshops and visiting writer events are financed by sponsors, contributors, and grants for artists fees and promotion."
In her spare time, one can find this writing founder making jewelry, "I get lost in the design, the color combinations, and the mix of materials. I especially love turning found items into pendants."
Her favorite author quote is by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, an avid writer himself, "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about."
Perhaps the best piece of advice for someone who is on the fence about writing groups and whether or not they should join one Ginger had this to say. "Give it a test run before you join. Go to a few meetings. Get a feel for the group goals and the dynamics of participants. I love that writers often have nothing else in common, but the fact that they love to write. It makes for an interesting combination when together in a writing group. Look for group energy that feels comfortable, challenging, or whatever serves your writing goals."
Be sure to check out the Podcast on Saturday, July 25th at 6 pm (EST) to learn more about Ginger and Alleghany Writers in our Going Local segment.
Ginger Collins was also excited to announce that Alleghany Writes is on Twitter and Instagram too! Here are the handles if you want to like, follow, and share their information:
A new Writer of the Week will be featured every Monday. Be sure to also follow The Writing Wall on Twitter @TheWritingWall, or on Instagram @writingsonthewall85 for the latest. You can also listen to the podcast every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. Just search for The Writing Wall on Spotify, Google Cast, Breaker, and more.