Members of the Hannibal Writers Guild are ready to celebrate its first year of creativity and new friendships with a birthday party at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Mark Twain Brewing Company.
Ryan Freeman, Hannibal Writers Guild founder and president, also a member of the Missouri Writers Guild, said members have accomplished several goals during their first year together. The members conduct a roundtable discussion each month, sharing their creations and offering each other feedback and growing closer along the way.
"A lot of times, writing is lonely — it's not a lot of social work, it's not a lot of interaction with other people," he said. "It's you and a piece of paper or a laptop. But when you have time to share that with other people who have similar hopes and dreams and goals, it really encourages you that 'yeah, you can write the story and get it published.'"
Freeman said that the guild partnered with the Quincy Public Library for National Novel Writing Month in November, helping several area writers create their first novel during the course of the month. Now, they are in the process of editing and publishing their stories.
"Those stories would have just stayed in someone's head — but now they're becoming a reality, which is really, really cool," he said.
Several Hannibal Writers Guild meetings have featured writing industry professionals from outside the area. Freeman said it's challenging for writers to have the opportunity to interact with agents, stressing that it's crucial for a writer to have an agent to aid in publishing their works. Patty Carothers, with the Metamorphosis Literary Agency, visited during a monthly meeting to speak with the members of the guild.
"That was one of our best turnouts, and we were able to give writers in the area an opportunity to have all their questions answered face-to-face with this literary agent," he said.
The Hannibal Writers Guild's first year sparked many creative works and strong friendships, Freeman said, and he hopes to work with fellow area residents to organize a local writers conference in the future. Members also plan to publish a Hannibal Literary Magazine, encouraging local submissions of short stories and poetry. And Freeman invited anyone with an interest in writing to stop by the birthday party or a monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. the second Saturday of each month at the Mark Twain Brewing Company.
"Our motto is 'More than just Mark Twain.' Mark Twain is awesome as a writer — and he's dynamic and witty and clever — but if we stay in the past, we're going to stay in the past," he said. "We have talented writers now who deserve attention, too."