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Meet Judy Reeves

Today we’d like to introduce you to Judy Reeves.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
An idea “descended” on me one November night in 1992 in my bathtub: Open a writing center; a gathering place for writers where they can come and learn and find community and share their work. I opened The Writing Center, a nonprofit literary center, in the Gaslamp Quarter in November 1993–a sort of “if you build it they will come” concept that worked. Within a short time, we were able to offer many classes, groups and workshops for writers; we held readings in our space in the old Quong Building and next door in the Fritz Theater.

Our teachers were working writers, our community was writers of all levels and all stripes. In 1996 we moved to Hillcrest. Unfortunately, we had to close the nonprofit for funding reasons. But the idea didn’t die. Today San Diego Writers, Ink is alive and thriving in Liberty Station. I am no longer running the nonprofit, or on staff, but this is where I teach, where I lead groups and writing workshops, attend and host readings, and where I feel most at home.

This isn’t the only place I teach–I also do presentations at writing conferences and workshops all over the US and other countries.

Out of my experience teaching and working with other writers, I have published four books on the writing craft as well as fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in various journals and anthologies. I’m currently writing a memoir of a solo around-the-world journey I took many years ago.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When is bringing a dream to life ever a smooth road? The first nonprofit organization I co-founded had to close its doors because of funding challenges. I can’t remember when I’ve ever worked as many hours as I did in those early years of both The Writing Center and San Diego Writers, Ink. Pulling all-nighters used to be fun, until it wasn’t.

Meeting deadlines, filling classes; having to cancel classes or workshops because of lack of registrations is never easy. I always struggled with disappointing those who had registered as well as the instructor who worked so hard to create the class or workshop. Disappointing attendance at readings or other events was never easy either.

Still… yes, I’d do it again. I never expected it would be a struggle- or stress- or anxiety-free. But oh the joy! of creating community, bringing stories to life and sending them out into the world, making noise with our poetry–all of it.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I call myself “writer, teacher, and writing practice provocateur.” I am a writing teacher and coach, I also edit manuscripts and work with individual writers and writing groups to help them learn the craft and tell their stories. I create community by bringing writers together–to write together, to read their work, to learn together and support one another in our writing and our writing lives.

Both nonprofit literary organizations I co-founded helped create a lively and spirited writing community in San Diego that is thriving. Neither of these organizations was or is a one-woman show. They were created by the commitment and hard work of many others.

My own work–teaching and nurturing and supporting writers–comes from that sense of celebrating ourselves as writers and committing ourselves to telling our stories in whatever form they take–fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry, plays, hybrids.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
In starting the nonprofit literary organizations, I certainly would search for financial partners and learn more about fundraising (or find partners who had this experience) before I found a site and threw open the doors.

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