“Hi. My name is Darlene . . . ”
Two years ago, when I arrived at the Cleveland Inkubator, an all-day festival for writers and readers in downtown Cleveland, I didn’t know how to introduce myself. At various workshops, we’d be invited to identify who we were to establish camaraderie or a foundation for a writing assignment.
Each time, I would pause and stumble over the words, “I’m a wanna-be writer.” I have journaled for decades and written for several jobs, but because I was just writing for fun or because “writer” wasn’t in my job title, I didn’t believe I could claim that designation. The whole reason I was at that Cleveland Inkubator was because I had lost my job about a week or so before. Writing always appeared at various times in my life as a beacon of light in a storm. So, I thought, this was my chance to become what I secretly felt I had been called to do.
For a long time, I assumed everyone knew how to write. But sitting at that conference, the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio, I was stunned at the idea that I could be considered a writer – like all of the talented people around me. That conference changed my life. Workshop after workshop, presenters would say the difference between a writer and a non-writer, is that writers write and non-writers don’t. I heard all kinds of people talk about their experience as writers, readers and “wanna-be” writers. That day, I connected with a lot of new people, but most importantly, I connected with myself – a writer.
Over the last two years, I’ve discovered that I hate writing, fussing over every word, but like many other writers – I love to have written. And guess what. I do qualify as a writer, because I write. And I am so grateful to have learned about Literary Cleveland, the literary arts organization that organizes the Inkubator and whose mission is to nurture a community of readers and writers in northeast Ohio. At The Cleveland Inkubator, I felt I had found my community and that I was home.
Literary Cleveland Executive Director Lee Chilcote says, “Over the past two years, we’ve helped thousands of people connect with Northeast Ohio’s diverse writing community, learn from professional and amateur writers, and share their talents with the public. The Cleveland Inkubator is a big part of that!”
The Cleveland Inkubator, in partnership with the Cleveland Public Library, is back for its 3rd festival beginning the week of July 24 and registration is still open. A number of free events will happen each night of the week, from author readings, open mics and book swaps, culminating with the free Saturday conference complete with craft talks and writers’ workshops for adults and teens. The full schedule is listed here.
If you are interested in discovering your love of writing or have a passion for literary arts, then this festival is for you. I can’t wait to see your there! I’ll be the one proudly wearing my Literary Cleveland T-shirt and introducing myself as Darlene English, the writer.