Maribeth Fischer was a woman on a mission back in 2005. She desperately wanted to help her two nephews suffering from a progressive and terminal illness called mitochondrial disease. To raise money to combat the disease, she decided to create a one-day writers conferences and, as she says modestly, “12 amazingly generous writers – New York Times bestsellers, agents, well published authors – volunteered to run workshops and offer readings.” More than 100 people showed up and the effort raised $15,000. The night before the conference she received the terrible news that one of her nephews had passed away. “I needed to keep going, to keep all that good energy alive and it felt like the only way I knew to make my grief useful,” she explained.
In the aftermath of this amazing success and heartbreaking news, she and her colleagues started planning another conference. It was then the idea of a writers’ organization struck. By April, 2005 the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild was born to a family of about a dozen members. Today, membership exceeds 400 creative souls with writing interest that runs the gamut – poems, essays, exposes and novels (both fiction and non-fiction).
Many have been published in local and national media outlets. Meg Ellacott is a prime example. When she retired from the trade show management business, she moved to Rehoboth. “I had ignored the creative side of “me” until retiring early,” she said. Her job required some writing to promote the shows, and she recalls someone saying to her years ago, “Your writing is powerful. You should consider getting into creative writing – fiction, memoir, whatever.” Ellicott knew she needed something to occupy her time and mind and found the Guild. She took classes in fiction, non-fiction and memoir writing. Eventually, she published her first book. “I’d fallen in love with this lovely little community of writers. So encouraging.”
Paul McFarlane is another interesting example of the Guild’s multi-talented members. McFarlane retired in 2015 “having served a 34-year career as an R&D contracting officer first with the U.S. Navy (civilian) then with the National Institutes of Health including projects with Dr. Anthony Fauci. McFarlane has a degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland (College Park). A family member introduced him to the Guild. “I’m forever indebted to her! One of my goals was to write a memoir and I have been hard at it ever since,” he said. “The ‘Free Writes’ are what hooked me. And, you don’t have to be a member to participate.”
Members like Meg and Paul are the glue that holds the Guild together and what makes it unique. Fischer will be the first to say that the Guild started as a volunteer project “meant to do something good in the world, and that core has remained.”
The Guild website explains the many writing sessions and workshops offered from “Art in the AM”, a pairing of art with readings and “Night of Songs and Stories”, readings combined with music by a popular duo called Stuart and Amy. Events and activities take place in Bethany, Rehoboth, Lewes and Millville. Anyone who has an inkling for creative writing or just being around creative writing enthusiasts (and creative, writing enthusiasts – couldn’t resist!) should check out what the Guild offers.