As I listened to the local authors read from their works in 27 Views of Charlotte, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of talent in my adopted region. We had gathered at Park Road Books last Saturday for the book launch. I was there to support several friends whose pieces are included and to pick up a copy as a gift. However, the event became a celebration not just of the book or the city it profiles in poetry and prose, but of Charlotte-area writers, those represented in the volume and those who are not.
My friend Jack Claiborne, who wrote the preface and is author of a number of historical books on the region, explained that decades ago, Charlotte’s writing community was a small one. He said that today it has burgeoned and the voices being heard are as diverse as the region’s increasingly eclectic population.
I have written before about the value – no, the critical importance – of being part of a writers community. Mignon Ballard, author of the Augusta Goodnight mystery series and 13 other books, triple underscored that point to Saturday’s group. She wrote in 27 Views how winning a Charlotte Writers’ Club short story contest gave her much-needed confidence and led to her first published book. Through the Charlotte Writers’ Club, she connected with other fledgling and successful writers who offered each other clear-eyed, constructive criticism. Within this group, Mignon writes, “I was at last among people who not only loved the craft as I did, but were seriously intent on developing those skills.”
As the authors mingled with book buyers after the presentation, signing each others’ paperbacks, it felt like a family reunion. An important part of that family was the one hosting the party. Park Road Books, the city’s only independent new book seller, is an integral and supportive part of our literary community.
I have some acquaintances that do not frequent the independent bookstores in their communities and others whose only collaboration with writers is online. For me – and for many of the authors in 27 Views, that just doesn’t hit the mark. Nothing is more essential to my development as a writer than meeting face-to-face with others in my profession and the people who will be selling my books.
I plan to stay in touch with some of those that I met on Saturday and add them to my ever widening circle of support.