Living in a foreign city where the primary language is different from your own can have a huge impact on your writing life. Sure, a place like Vienna has no shortage of charming old world cafes in which to spend hours writing, a different environment can be inspiring and the internet can be a life saver in terms of finding work and staying in touch with editors.
However the one thing I really truly missed when I moved from Toronto to Vienna was a writing community. I missed talking to other writers in English. Getting feedback online is not the same as being part of a writers group or sitting across from another writer and discussing your work. And workshops! Going to writing workshops, even for seasoned writers is a great way to boost your creative energy and meet like-minded people.
Well, they say the best ideas come from looking at the dilemmas in your own life and creating a solution. My solution was to start a non-profit writing organization for English-speaking writers living in Vienna. In 2014, Write Now Vienna was born. I definitely didn't pull this off on my own - it was a project created by four writers who wanted the same thing, to build a face-to-face networking platform where writers from all genres and all levels of experience could come together and socialize, attend readings, workshops and retreats, and feel like they are part of a community.
The repsonse has been overwhelming! Our launch party filled the art lounge of the Vienna landmark, Cafe Korb. This is a place where famous Austrian writers, politicians, and artists have gathered for decades. Sigmund Freud held his midweek meetings there. It was an honour to be starting something writerly in such an historically significant place.
To say Write Now has shaped my writing life while living in Vienna would be a huge understatement. I have met so many interesting writers, from all over the world. We thought we would attract mainly expats from England, the US, Canada and Australia. We did, but we also have many Europeans with excellent English, who are avid readers and writers. I've met a poet from Moldova, a screenwriter from Sweden, a performance artist from Serbia, a short story writer from Romania, a novelist from Ireland, a filmmaker from Canada and literally everything in between. Creative writing is alive and well in Vienna!
We run an open mic on the third Thursday of the month, we offer writing workshops as often as possible, feature readings with published writers, give talks by editors and inspiring creatives, and even run the occasional retreat.
So if you are a writer living in Vienna, or just passing through check us out. If you are a writer living in another city and would love to start something similar, do it!
If you are nowhere near Vienna and are interested in working with me, please do send a message. We can work on Skype, or by email. I spend part of the summer in Toronto - you can meet me there too!