Writers Group Kicks Off Inaugural Meeting

Vanessa Brintrup
GROUP FOUNDERS, from left, Desiree Kannel, Rachael Rifkin and Nancy Woo.

The Long Beach Literary Arts Center (LBLAC) held its first writer’s mixer at the Ruth Bach Neighborhood Library on Saturday.

The fledgling organization aspires to connect readers and writers throughout Long Beach. About 10 writers attended the debut event for a welcoming and somewhat intimate social session.

The LBLAC is the project of three local professional writers that have a stake in the arts scene: Desiree Kannel, a Long Beach native that also launched the group Rose Writers and facilitates regular workshops; Nancy Woo, a poet that helped found the writing group Women Who Submit with Kannel; and Rachael Rifkin, a ghostwriter with a journalistic background.

“We’re all really interested in centralizing the literary arts community in Long Beach – making it easier to find and support each other – and helping elevate the voices in our community (especially those who are marginalized) through professional development training, inclusive literary events and resources for artistic cross-pollination,”said Rifkin in an email.

“This is a really lonely business,” said other cofounder Desiree Kannel at the event.

The group of attendees was comprised of writers, bloggers and a travel agent wanting to improve their brochure statements. All had similar things in common such as problems with accountability, time management, business practices and networking skills. Not surprisingly, making money by writing was also at the top of the list.

“I had a fearless voice once and I’ve lost it,” said Mary Dixon, a music blogger.

“I am a writer, it took a long, long time to say that,” said Scott Keene, a former entertainer and blogger. The group was highly encouraged to own their love for the written word and to say “I am a writer” aloud.

Programs such as LBLAC’s mixer and other workshops are especially of value in Long Beach where the literacy rate trails slightly behind the rest of Los Angeles County, according to website laalamanac.com. The website states that “The literacy strength of Los Angeles seemed best reflected in the categories of local internet usage for news and book purchasing and newspaper circulation.”

Local libraries are one of the few remaining free public spaces for community members to access the internet, use a computer and read books. By partnering with the Ruth Bach Neighborhood Library, the LBLAC is adding one more resource for bookworms and writers to explore their talents.

Despite slightly-lower-than-average literacy rates in Long Beach, Rifkin says there’s still a large presence of writers in the area. “We just want to help connect dots so that every writer and aspiring writer has a place to go to find their tribe,” said Rifkin.

The organization is in the process of filing for non-profit government status and is looking to host mixers quarterly. Though there is no definite date set for the next event, writers can connect with the LBLAC through their website, www.lblitarts.com, and on Facebook.




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