Feeling a need for an active writing community we — Pat, Bonnie, Jennifer and Dixie — began meeting once a month to critique one another’s work and talk about writing. We also hold annual writing retreats in places that inspire our writing muse, like Silver City, Idaho City and Boise back when Boise State hosted its annual bookfest. In addition to our “day” jobs, we regularly submit stories, essays and poems to publications and writing contests.
About five, maybe six years ago a college in northern Idaho was soliciting submissions for publication in a literary project. I, Dixie, emailed a poem to the director of that endeavor.
Within a couple of days I got an email from a local poet. I didn’t realize he had anything to do with the publication, but the email contained my poem, instructions to reject it and the remark, “She’s a local writer. There is a whole other bunch of them around here.” I forwarded that misdirected email to the director.
The Director replied with a quote from Burns, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”
On a subsequent writing retreat to Bonnie’s cabin in Featherville we four friends were laughing about the “other bunch” remark, wondering what the poet meant by it. We agreed that we each often felt like members of the “other bunch.”
Since the name stuck we decided to adopt it as our mantra and use it to attract other writers who may sometimes feel that they too are members of the “other bunch”.
The label has been a driving force. We have all published more stories and books since adopting it — Bonnie published a book about the early days of Twin Falls; Pat landed a book contract with Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Dixie published a collection of short stories and Jennifer got a book editing contract.
Today we are proud to call ourselves “The Other Bunch” and offer encouragement to other writers struggling to find their voice. There is strength in friendship.
Dixie Thomas Reale