Award-winning journalist becomes new ‘Writer in Residence’

CBC Radio journalist, Jennifer Chrumka, discusses the art of writing and what she hopes people take from her workshops

Jennifer Chrumka, a British Columbia-based writer and award-winning journalist with CBC Radio, is the second Writer in Residence for the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library. From September to December, she will spend half of her term hosting writing workshops and one-on-one consultations with the public and dedicating the other half to her own writing projects.

“I think [people in the arts] don’t get together enough to celebrate the arts, the written word, storytelling, and so it’s fostering that love of storytelling,” Chrumka said. “Writers often live in silos. They’re very solitary. The act of writing is a very solitary process, and so to bring out a bunch of people to talk about the craft of writing and how we can better our craft together is really valuable, I believe.”

On Thursday, Oct. 5, Chrumka hosted the second Writer’s Circle event, called Writing About the Self, at the Kamloops Library. The conversation centred on personal essays, which she claimed can serve as training grounds for writers to find their voice through sharing personal stories.

“It truly is connecting with other people and seeing the energy that grows in the room as we start talking about a story, we start sharing our ideas,” Chrumka said. “It’s making connections. It’s hearing other people’s stories. That is a real precious gift, for somebody to share with you that they want to write about their personal life history, like growing up in a foster family and struggling to fit.”

As Writer in Residence, Chrumka seeks to show people how to write, rewrite and revise their truths. She believes that sharing stories, whether they’re written or spoken, builds a stronger sense of community. That’s why she’s so focused on inspiring writers to continue their work.

Chrumka’s goal for this program is to encourage people interested in writing, whether they’re writers or love the art of writing, to come out to her workshops. She wants to encourage people who don’t have a writing community to attend these kinds of events to help connect them to communities and other writers, where they can form their own writing groups.

“I’m hoping that people will have produced a bit of writing during my time as Writer in Residence that they will read,” Chrumka said. “I’m hoping that people will pick up stories that they have dusted off, that they will continue to write. I’m hoping to inspire people to write.”

“I think writing and storytelling connect us all in the community, and so being able to be a part of that is a huge gift and a big part of why this has been so wonderful already.”

Bring an object that holds personal significance for you and Chrumka will guide you through prompts to develop your observational skills and enhance your writing at the next Writer in Residence event, Object Writing Exercise, on Thursday, Oct. 19, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Kamloops Library, 100-465 Victoria St.