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
Not everyone in the Writers Rump aims to write the great
American novel. Some aren't even interested in seeing their work
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
"Everyone is always astounded at the quality writing that comes
out of these sessions and the talent that's been hidden," Molina
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
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
Grass says the pencil froze in her hand the first time she
attended a meeting of the Writers Rump. …