‘It was overwhelming. I cried.’ Member of a West Kelowna writer’s group gets published

Click to play video: '‘There’s wonderful people here’: Writers’ group in West Kelowna encourages members on their journey to being published' ‘There’s wonderful people here’: Writers’ group in West Kelowna encourages members on their journey to being published
WATCH ABOVE: Community reporter Shay Galor sits in on a weekly meeting with the Westbank Writers’ Group. Many of the authors in the group have already published their work – Nov 19, 2018

It’s all about feedback, encouragement and accountability for the Westbank Writers’ Group.

Members meet weekly at the Westbank Library in West Kelowna to collaborate, share ideas and get just the right type of optimism and confidence to help them publish their work.

“What we are is a group of active writers, as opposed to people coming who think that they’re going to get writing lessons. That’s not our focus,” said Donna Bird, one of the facilitators. “We have a minimum of six, maybe seven, published authors already, and people that are close to publishing. A couple of them are on their second and third books already. And this group is more to encourage, to provide feedback, to motivate, to make sure our feet are in the fire.”

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Bird explains that accountability is crucial when it comes to writing, as it is easy to get distracted.

“Every week, we have a one-minute go around just to hear what everyone’s done for the week. And those that haven’t done anything feel a little bit guilty because they didn’t do any writing,” Bird said.

Geneva Ensign, one of the founding members of the group, just celebrated her book launch.

“When I first got my book delivered in boxes, I ran down here because this group was in a meeting to show them and they all helped celebrate,” the author said.

Ensign’s book is called “Community Healing: A Transcultural Model.” Using her 40 years of professional experience, the book was written to help both indigenous and non-indigenous communities work through trauma and heal.

“This book is focused on what could happen if indigenous people wanted to have a look at a total program,” Ensign said. “I don’t speak for indigenous people, but I can help people learn how to work with other people.”

Ensign’s program is so valued it is now being used as a model at a college in Alberta.

“I’m not taking any fees, any publishers fees or any kind of royalties, because a percentage of each one of these books is going to a program in Alberta to teach community healers based on my book. So there’s a college in Alberta called Maskwacis Cultural College that is developing a program and all profits will go towards it.”

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Ensign says the writers’ group gave her the support she needed to launch her book.

“We’ve become good friends. There’s wonderful people here,” Ensign said.

The Westbank Writers’ Group meets every Thursday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at Westbank Library. New members, as long as they are established writers, are always welcome.

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