Roanoke Valley Christian Writers (RVCW) is a well organized and active group. In the four years since it was founded by Barbara Baranowski, membership has grown to 30 members. To give insight to the group’s success and what new members can expect, we went a little deeper with Barbara and group member Rev. John Carroll.
BOOK CITY ★ Roanoke: First, tell us a little about how the group operates.
Barbara Baranowski: We’re a Christian writers’ interest group. We meet on the third Thursday of every month, except for December. Each meeting is an hour and a half, from 6:30 to 8 PM at Cave Spring United Methodist Church (4505 Hazel Drive, Roanoke). Each session is intended to encourage all of us in our writing. Our goal is to connect our writers to sources for success.
BCR: What does that success typically look like?
BB: For many, it means publishing. We’re dedicated to helping writers publish their work, and to helping published writers market their work. Members are writing in many genres including works for children and youth, fiction and non-fiction books and magazine articles, songs, poetry, church curriculum, and devotional books and articles. Our members are writing from their Christian perspective, so their work is generally based in their faith, or if not directly religious, it’s pleasing to God in content.
BCR: How did the group begin?
BB: I moved to Roanoke from Richmond four years ago. There, I had been a founding member of a similar group, and there was nothing like it here. I felt God’s leading to begin one, and with the help of others, Roanoke Valley Christian Writers was born.
BCR: What should a new member expect at a first meeting?
BB: A new member can expect to be welcomed, care about, connected, and helped in writing for the Lord. We typically have up to 25 members come together to hear a speaker or participate in a workshop. The first half hour is for business, the rest of the meeting is for the speaker. Monthly I send an email out to members about the upcoming topic and post it on our website, www.writingfaith.org.
John Carroll: You can expect great support and some key tools for writers.
BCR: John, can you tell me a little about your experience, what some of those tools are?
JC: Well, I’ve thought a lot about this. I see the group as providing a number of important benefits, from the practical to the very inspirational. Not all are unique to RVCW, but the combination of them in a faith-based setting is unique.
On the encouragement side, I wanted to find other writers who could sympathize with my struggles. How do you just get a first draft done without obsessing over the exact wording of a sentence halfway down the page? What are some practical ways to get ideas for writing? What do you do when you get stuck? Or when you can’t get started? Here, people who have had the same problems are willing to share their experiences.
And on the practical side, there are the basics of information at the meetings. I’m always learning something that I didn’t even know I needed to know. It could be from a speaker presentation, or it could be an offhand remark at the snack table.
Meetings of RVCW create real deadlines for me. I’m more productive.
The group is a real source of skilled and experienced advisors. These are friends who can look at a piece of writing and see areas of needed improvement. That’s invaluable.
But I have been most impressed with how the members of RVCW support one another in a Christian atmosphere. Members are not merely looking out for themselves but also are ready to step up and be of help. One member typed a manuscript for another member. Now I’m helping others as well. RVCW provides opportunities to serve.
BCR: Those connections are important in what can be a really solitary craft.
And there’s always room for more to connections. Roanoke Valley Christian Writers is open to new members. There’s no membership fee, and donations are welcomed. Learn more at the www.writingfaith.org, or contact Barbara Baranowski using the form below. ★