The Virginia Writers Project began during the Great Depression under the Works Progress Administration. It provided income to writers, photographers, and artists (1935-1940). It produced guides to each state to stimulate tourism. States were traveled, each locale was documented for interest or historical distinction.
In the spirit of the WPA program, a group of Virginia writers crafted a plan to revisit the counties and locales to add to the Virginia story, and second, separately, to create an outlet for Virginia’s talented creators. We plan to publish quarterly, and with each publication, to present aspects. First, a presentation of a county interest; second, creative writing. Two separate projects, often different authors or photographers, and illustrations.
We are managed by an editorial board. Associated editors are writers with expertise in specific genres. These individuals develop engagement opportunities according to the needs of those authors. For instance, poets may wish to critique each other’s work while short fiction writers may want to learn techniques. All kinds of approaches. Writers benefit from learning experiences and feedback.
Paying ahead, the Editors encourage all writers serve as readers on the work of others. This is fashioned in the same spirit as academic publishing, which employs peer review (anonymous or collectively) prior to publication. All submissions are peer reviewed.
How are we reaching out?
We have an extensive network of writers we know through writing clubs. We are directly contacting county historical societies for a lead to work with us. PSAs are being used in targeted locations. We are reaching out to academic departments in Virginia colleges. We are locating primary research materials through county clerks and the Library of Virginia.
We begin with 20 counties touching the Shenandoah Valley. Other counties come into play when in author/creator living there offers to help. We are particularly interested in places often overlooked, the smaller counties. Authors are talent living within Virginia.
We are asking the historical societies to reach out and establish a point of contact to explore ideas for their inclusion. This might be an annotated photo essay, research materials, or, in the best case, to author a few pages telling a story of interest. One county used early 19th century trial records. Another tells the story of a series of disastrous fires. Another interviewed two septuagenarians to reflect on their experiences growing up, going to school, what their friends did. A broad landscape marks our footprints on history.
We reach out to our colleges and universities to connect through faculty and students for creative writing, photography, and historical research to tell a story by Virginians for Virginians.