Thursday, January 14, 2016


by Jackie King

Tulsa NightWriters--My Soft Place to Fall

Writer’s clubs have sprung up all over the country, even in the smallest of communities. In Oklahoma where I live these groups grow like wild flowers such as Indian Blanket or Indian Paintbrush. These resplendent native plants seem to force their way up through hard ground and bloom gloriously in spite of any obstacle.
Indian Paintbrush

Writing is a lonely business and those of us who choose this path feel compelled to gather together with others who are infected with the same bug. Charles Sasser, Tulsa NightWriter member and, author of numerous books, including At Large: The Life and Crimes of Randolph Franklin Dial (St. Martin’s True Crime Library), speaks of “The lonely circle of light…”


Charles W. Sasser
Charles Sasser, Author

Filled with trepidation, I first visited Tulsa NightWriters in the late 1980’s.  I had just survived an unexpected (by me) divorce, and had taken refuge in writing. What fun it would be to murder my Ex-husband on paper, I thought. 

I'm a lion on paper, but walking into the door of that library took all of the courage I could scrape together. Like most writers I was sensitive, shy and petrified to be sitting with “real” writers. However, I soon realized that the business-like façade I had assumed to cloth my uncertainty, was not needed with this group.

This smokescreen of a woman totally in control of her life had sprung to life from my imagination. That’s what we writers do: we make things up, create our own worlds and friends, and in many ordinary circumstances we never feel as though we quite fit in. It took me a while to grasp that I had at last found a place with other square pegs and we all fit nicely into the square holes available at TNW.
Tulsa NightWriters is the oldest writers club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was started in the 1950’s for people who worked. The history of this club is nebulous. The group keeps no minutes and usually ignores Roberts Rules of Order. Their total focus is to support individuals who write or who want to write.

As far as I know there’s no written account of the club. If there is such a record, the pages must lie in some dusty trunk with unpublished manuscripts. 

For over 30 years I have perennially blossomed in this organization that focuses on writers and the prose and poetry they create.

As I said, we have no formal history as a club. Minutes are never taken at meetings. Few people volunteer for offices. Most officers are drafted and serve from loyalty and gratitude for the support they themselves have received from the group. Our meetings are about wordsmithing, and the acceptance of all oddballs who pursue this occupation.
TNW Mall Signing 2015

Most all of our members work at day jobs and spend evenings honing the craft they love. At each meeting members are called on to tell what they accomplished during the month.

Members discuss their projects
Christmas Party 2014

If I should say, “I got six rejections, but one of my stories came back with a different colored paperclip," this bunch will applaud wildly. “Way to go, Jackie, at least the editor looked at your piece.” Or, “Next time you’ll get a contract,” they might say. knowing that the new clip means the editor actually read some of my story.

The current membership is around 80 and anyone who writes or is thinking about writing is welcome. We have some members who have sold hundreds of books and others who are just beginning. Ages range from 14 to 94. The only prerequisite is to want to write.

Organizing writers is like herding cats, and TNW doesn't even try. Each member walks to his/her own drummer. That’s the reason it’s the best writers club ever.
TNW Anthology--2007

Members have compiled two short story anthologies. SHADES OF TULSA in ,  and A RIVER OF STORIES, 2015. Parts of this post have been included as a history of the club. 


Bill Kirton said...

My only contact with such clubs is when I've been invited to give a talk or join a discussion but you're right, they're always very encouraging. Over here, some libraries are commkitted enough to orghanise those soprts of sessions for youngsters - and they're terrific because kids have no inhibitions. At one, where I held a workshopp, an 11 year old came up to mer afterwards an d said 'Is that your book on the shelf upstairs - The Darkness?' I said yes and she replied 'Rubbish cover, isn't it?'

Jackie King said...

Your post made me laugh, as it usually does. I love that 11 year old, and wish I knew what her idea of a dynamite cover would be.

June Shaw said...

Sweet, Jackie. Sure wish I could join your group. Its sounds like wonderful support.

And I loved your line about how it would feel to kill your husband on paper. Priceless!

Jackie King said...

Hi June, I wish you were part of our group, too! If you're ever in Tulsa on a third Tuesday of the month, be sure and visit!

Jean Henry Mead said...

I was once a member of the Sheridan (Wyoming) Range Writers while a novice novelist. The group was very similar to the one you described and I have found memories of those meetings.

Jackie King said...

Jean, there are so many wonderful support groups around for writers, and I'm grateful for each one. I think writers' rock for the generosity of their spirits.