By: Elaine Jackson
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer (and an Olympic gymnast) but lack of resources, pragmatism, and parents who wanted me to get a secure job won out when I graduated from high school (and into a recession). Like many of us in the WCYR, I came back to writing indirectly, and without having any contacts or knowledge of the industry, I discovered that having the ability to write wasn’t enough to get me where I wanted to go. I needed support, motivation, and most importantly, relationships with people who were further ahead on the writing path than I was. Volunteering as a board member for WCYR has offered me all of those things.
WCYR already benefits from many wonderful volunteers. Besides the board members, we have Isobel Warren, who looks after dreaming up, purchasing, and packaging the raffle prizes, and Sherry Loeffler, who provides a lending library of books on writing.
Why You Should Consider Volunteering
Volunteering does take time and commitment (most of our board members already work full-time hours and then some) but it also has many rewards. I’ve made new friends who’ve been able to share great ideas and resources. I’ve also received some paying opportunities because of referrals from fellow WCYR members. Being able to say that I’m involved with the writing community has added credibility to my submissions and helped me to develop a writing resume. But I think the biggest reward has been the cheerleading. I now have writing friends whom I can call on when I’m ready to give up, or when I need feedback, or when I need to rant about the latest rejection. I also have friends who can help me celebrate my occasional victories (and who appreciate how hard-won those are).
A Community Built by Volunteers
Volunteers are the only reason that this community continues to exist. If you’re considering becoming more active you will gain a much deeper appreciation of why certain decisions get made and why some projects get off the ground and others do not. You can have the opportunity to steer and influence the direction of the group. Individual members can make big things happen: for example we will be having a Word on the Street table, because Doug Owen took the initiative to organize it.
Ways to Give Back
Up until now the WCYR board has operated as a benign dictatorship. We hope that in the future community members will be excited and interested in joining the board so that we can have democratic elections. Healthy organizations need to have interested leaders waiting in the wings. But if you’d like to just test the waters we have plenty of small jobs, such as helping with PR, which can be done with a minimal time investment. Research on happiness in recent years has demonstrated over and over again that giving to others creates better relationships and more well-being. More engagement leads to more happiness, and more writing happiness leads to more work getting done at the keyboard.
Please get in touch if you are interested in getting more involved. You can write a blog post, run errands, submit meeting notices, or gear up for a run at President. Or perhaps there is something that is not happening now that you would like to see, like a beta-reader matchmaking service. Know that we appreciate all of your efforts and ideas, no matter how big or small, as we go forward together.
President of WCYR | Elaine has had work published in Room Magazine, The Canadian Journal of Woman Studies, Metroland Newspapers, two anthologies, and online. She once won the Sylvia Ellen Hersch Memorial Prize for Excellence in Creative Writing, as well as the WCDR Amprosia Contest in 2013. She currently resides in the greater Mount Albert area with her excellent new partner and two completely self-absorbed cats. You can find her writing at www.writingfromthecentre.ca or www.jacksonyoga.ca.