Library Life Story Writing Program Celebrates Publication Of First Book

By Kathy L. Collins

On Thursday, December 5, 56 writers and their families gathered at the Bloomingdale Regional Library in Valrico to celebrate a momentous occasion, the publication of their first anthology of life stories, I Have A Story To Tell…

This book is a compilation of stories written by area residents who attended the Life Story Writing classes offered at the Bloomingdale Regional Library. The classes are offered free of charge thanks to the support of the Bloomingdale Chapter of the Friends of the Library.

The book has been a labor of love for the authors. Two years ago, the 60 plus members of the 10 Life Writing Groups were asked to submit stories 1,500 words in length. According to Valerie Perry, one of the programs writing instructors and the Bloomingdale Writers Connection (BWC) Coordinator, “The theme of the book reflects the diversity of the people who live in Eastern Hillsborough County. This is a melting pot with new residents mingling with those who have been here for generations.” Perry added, “The library is often the first place people go when they come to a new area.”

The Introduction to I Have A Story To Tell… says it best, “Narrative or storytelling seems to written into our human DNA. Stories provide entertainment, and are a powerful way to pass on values and life experiences to the next generation.”

The authors were a diverse group. Joan Courtney, originally from New York City, has lived in Valrico for 38 years. Courtney wrote about how as a child she learned how to use money. “The writing class takes you through topics, and you reflect on them and they bring back memories,” said Courtney.

Doreen Myers was from Valrico but now resides in The Villages. Myers’ artwork is the cover art for the book, and she is one of the authors. Myers said, “This book is a wonderful legacy for many of the authors.” Myers added, “Without Valerie, this book would not have come together and been published.”

Copies of I Have A Story To Tell… are available for purchase for $10 at the library.

The award winning Life Story Writing class is a free 10-week course. It has been offered at the library for the past seven years.  For more information, please contact the Bloomingdale Writers Connection at lifewriters bloom@msn.com.