Writers Rump: Literary Group Fires Creativity, Acts as a Tonic for Its Members

Article excerpt

Johnny Molina uses three phrases to describe the effect of the Writers Rump on its members: fires creativity, provides calisthenics for the brain and acts as a literary tonic that eases stress.

Not everyone in the Writers Rump aims to write the great American novel. Some aren't even interested in seeing their work published.

Molina, who started the group, says most people who attend the group's sessions derive satisfaction from delving within themselves. There they discover poems, short stories, plays and family histories.

"Everyone is always astounded at the quality writing that comes out of these sessions and the talent that's been hidden," Molina said.

The members of Writers Rump are young and old. They are engineers, homemakers and computer scientists. Some are educators and professional writers.

Through encouragement and gentle criticism, Molina says, amazing stories are being unearthed.

The Writers Rump meets from 7 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Center, Venture Drive and Mexico Road, St. Peters. About 20 members attend the meetings as their schedules permit. There are usually eight or 10 writers present each week. Participants donate $2 a week to the nonprofit group.

Molina, a free-lance writer in St. Charles and self-described social critic, started the Writers Rump in March with sculptor Ralph Massey of Foristell. The two men branched out from another group to offer writers a non-structured, non-threatening place to develop their writing.

Molina and Massey chose the name Writers Rump from a 19th-century term that described an organization of outsiders.

"And, of course, the rump is the part of the body a writer uses the most," Molina explained.

The sessions go something like this: There is a short warm-up exercise to get the pen moving. Then by using a photograph, painting, axiom or even a letter to Dear Abby, the group writes for 45 minutes.

One aspect of writing is emphasized each week. It could be dialogue, characterization or description. Closing a story can be a nightmare for some writers who tend to write at great length.

"When someone asked Chaucer to write a short letter, he said `Sir I don't have time to write a short letter,' " Molina said.

Molina and Massey encourage people to take their exercises home to their word processors or typewriters and improve on them.

"Writing is constant editing and rewriting," Molina said. "I got one of the most hilarious short stories out of one of our sessions that started with `It all began on Saturday morning.' I turned it into a play."

Newcomers are likely to have writer's block.

"We've had people who had brain-lock after one sentence," Molina said. "One of those people can now write a nine-page story in 45 minutes."

That writer is Donna Grass of St. Charles. Grass works at the Tintypery on South Main Street, where she photographs tourists in period clothes.

Grass says the pencil froze in her hand the first time she attended a meeting of the Writers Rump. …