Lexington Writer’s Room! Fund! Raising!

Some of you may know that at the beginning of the pandemic — literally the week before The Great Shutdown — Christopher and I were part of launching a new local nonprofit aimed at providing a killer work- and community-space to writers in Lexington and the region, also known as the Lexington Writer’s Room. To say this was the worst timing in the world isn’t exaggerating. Our tiny board and organization were all on the same page public health-wise so we basically shut our doors as soon as we opened. And we learned to deal with a LOT of uncertainty over the past year.

We learned a lot of things, honestly, including that the original space we occupied was too expensive for us to not become full-time fundraisers (more on that to come), perhaps had a more corporate vibe than everyone wanted (because most of the other occupants were tech company folks), and that we needed to subsidize as much of the membership cost as possible (what the nonprofit *does* besides providing space; we’re employee-free). We were, alas, not eligible for any of the funding to help nonprofits weather the pandemic, because we were — sad trombone — too new.

The good news is: we survived! And we’re now in a 200-year-old building, with a space that fits our aesthetics better, is roomier, and is affordable enough to make our long-term survival far more certain. What we’re about:

  • Creating an affordable, optimal space where writers can do their best work;
  • And do it as part of a community of different kinds of writers for cross-pollination and support;
  • Give people a space to meet (the salon) and hold literary events as part of their subsidized membership cost.

We also want to quite simply make Lexington’s literary community more awesome for working writers at all levels. We’re a small city and so creating infrastructure to support creatives staying here is meaningful work. We’re already working on a partnership to specifically support emerging Black writers too. I’m excited, and I hope you’re excited by proxy.

I’ve always had a cranky attitude about The Arts seeming to exclude literary arts. This goes back to my grumble-grumble at the “Arts Preview” in the print newspaper for Lexington every fall during high school. And it’s true that we writers can work in isolation, and often do. But, after experiencing this pandemic, I’m more convinced than ever that the Lexington Writer’s Room is going to be the birthplace of many wonderful projects, some that might never exist without it. In fact, I am in the process of selling a book I wrote the entire proposal for at one of the standing desks a few weeks ago. We also had members sell books during our first ill-fated opening week. It’s going to be a special place. But we need help to sustain us and our mission.

You knew a sales pitch was coming, right? We’re having our first fundraising effort as part of Kentucky Gives Day on May 11. While that day is a big focus, oour Ky Gives fundraising page is already up and running. Any amount helps — we are tiny, our overhead is low. Your funding will directly support all of the above. We even have a matching donor for the first $4,000 we raise, of what we’re hoping will be $10,000. And we’re hoping we can limit our hard-sell fundraising to a couple of times a year, so help us with that? *smiles hopefully from the salon*


Here’s that link one more time. AND if you’re a local writer in Lexington or the region (or know someone who is), tell them to get in touch and come see us at the space. We’re signing up new folks now. Vaccinated people can work without masks; unvaccinated folks will still need to mask. End ask portion of this! (It always sucks to ask people for money or support, but hey, you can’t get yeses without risking nos.)

I lost a handful of newsletter subscribers last time around, presumably for talking about lady parts and health, and I wish I wasn’t too lazy to figure out who so I could side-eye them. 😉 Hopefully, the rest of you will hang around despite the fundraising ask. My recovery is going very well, well enough that I’m frustrated I can’t walk the dogs solo and get tired easily.

And since I had you indulge my passion project soap box for most of this newsletter, I just wanted to say that this all came about because people in our literary community here were in contact and we were shooting the shit about wanting a good place to work outside the house. Your passion project may start from a similarly tiny place and grow to benefit others. Creating something is always a struggle — whether it’s a book or a nonprofit. But what a worthwhile struggle to put new things into the world.

In the meantime, if you have requests for future newsletter topics — craft, questions, etc — please feel free to send them. I want to get back to doing these weekly and making them far more rambling and about figuring things out, like they were when I first started them. And Stranger Things fans? Have you seen the new Season Four trailer? EEEEEE.

I hope your week is golden, and many thanks if you kick us a donation, but also thanks for reading, even if you don’t,

Gwenda

Preorder NOT YOUR AVERAGE HOT GUY, my apocalyptic rom-com, coming October 5 to a bookstore or e-reader or audiobook app near you.

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