Story and photos by Sam Shook
For centuries, storytellers have been important members of society. From ancient Egypt, to Medieval Europe, to the present day, stories inform us of the beliefs and values of different cultures, preserve their fantasies and legends, entertain, and provide a creative outlet for the storyteller. Nonetheless, much like the archetype, writers struggle. They struggle to improve their craft and to get recognition for their work. Fortunately, here in Stillwater there are a couple of ways to find support and get those stories published: the Stillwater Writers Group and FRONTIER MOSAIC.
Judith Sexton, a member of the Stillwater Writers Group, started her writing career when she was eleven. She, her cousins, and her friends had a club, and Judith wrote Western serials on yellow tablets. As an adult she joined the Stillwater Writers Group to connect with other writers, because being around creative people helps with the creative process.
The Stillwater Writers Group is an affiliate of the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. (OWFI), and is the preferred workshop of local writers. According to Judith Sexton, they might even be one of the oldest groups in OWFI. They meet at the Stillwater Public Library on the third Saturday of each month. Judith said, “If you want to write, hone your skills, and write. Keep writing, send out your stuff, don’t be discouraged, keep writing.”
During the first weekend of May, writers can attend the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference, where writers have the opportunity to meet and network with editors and agents.
The Stillwater Writers Group also hosts a writer and editor’s panel in July or August, and several times a year they present programs with published authors.
On March 11, 2017, mystery novelist Trey Barker took a couple of hours to give his tips on how to become a better writer. When asked for advice, Barker said, “The flippant answer is don’t write, you’re never going to make any money.”
“The main advice for any writer—beginning, done it for a while, published, unpublished—put your butt in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard. That is absolutely it. You have to put your butt in the chair and do the work. You have to. There’s no way around it. If you want to be a brain surgeon, you have to go to medical school, no way around it. If you want to write you have to write. Period.”
At Oklahoma State University, students can share their work with the community of Stillwater through, FRONTIER MOSAIC, a literary magazine ran by students, and advised by Clarissa Bonner and Aimee Parkison (of The Petals of Your Eyes fame). I had the privilege of visiting with three members, Treasurer Ashton C. Patton, Assistant Managing Editor Preston Phillips, and Secretary Amanda Hays, about the magazine.
I asked each of them why they joined FRONTIER MOSAIC.
Patton said, “I want to be an editor and this seemed like a great way to start honing those skills.”
“I wanted to work at FM because I want to work in editing someday,” said Phillips, “Of course, like many of the FM members, I would also like to be a published author; however, until then, I want to do everything I can to encourage younger authors to pour themselves into their craft the way I have.”
Hays said, “I wanted to work on the magazine because I love to read and write. The magazine provides me with valuable editorial experience and I enjoy reading what my peers contribute to the magazine.”
FRONTIER MOSAIC accepts submissions of undergraduate fiction, non-fiction, art, and poetry. Whether the writer is new to the scene, has a few stories done already, or is even a published author, they’ll consider their work for publication in the digital magazine.
I asked Patton, Phillips, and Hays what their advice was for local Stillwater writers. Patton said to “keep writing,” even if such advice sounds silly, it is true. Phillips recommended anyone who wants to write, whether they’re in a workshop or not, to let other people read their work. He said it will “… help you feel closer to your fellow writers.” Hays’s advice was to submit stories to FRONTIER MOSAIC and even come work for them “…because chances are if you like writing, you might like working on the magazine.”
So, take a seat at a keyboard or pick up a pen. Write something. Write anything, and be sure to get in touch with the Stillwater Writers Group or FRONTIER MOSAIC. Who knows, maybe an author will be discovered that the world doesn’t know about yet.
If you want to be a part of the Stillwater Writers Group, they meet on the third Saturday of every month. You can find them in the Stillwater Public Library in the meeting room, number 214. If you are an undergraduate student interested in publishing, or just someone who is interested in reading stories, you can find Frontier Mosaic at their website at www.frontiermosaic.com.