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Dec. 12, 2019 | Thursday
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Writers’ Circle founder Hermine Steinberg is leaving for new things
Sharon Frayne and Richard West take over leadership for the Writers' Circle as Hermine Steinberg moves from town. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Writers’ Circle began as a passion project for founder Hermine Steinberg but as she prepares to make the move back to Toronto, she says it’s time to hand the reigns over to Richard West and Sharon Frayne.

Steinberg founded the writing group in 2013 to connect with likeminded people in town; over the last six years it has grown into the supportive and flourishing community it is today. Now, the Writers’ Circle meets weekly to discuss and critique each other’s work, while also providing support and offering advice.

And though Steinberg says she doesn’t want to leave town and the group, she has commitments back in Toronto and could no longer “do it all” trying to split her time between NOTL and the city. But she knows the circle will continue in her absence, she says, and has “a lot of faith in them” to keep it running smoothly.

West has been treasurer of the Writers’ Circle for a few years and says he’s been leading some of the meetings with Frayne in that time anyway.

“When Hermine was going to leave, we thought – “So how are we going to do this?” he says.

Frayne has been managing the website and newsletter for the last four or five years, she says.

“We take part in a lot of community events and we’d hate to see it go. Richard and I were very involved anyway so we just decided to step up to the plate,” Frayne adds.

And though the two will be taking over leadership for the group, they agreed there won’t be much of a change in how the circle is managed.

“It works very well. It’s a good system. We meet every week, we critique each other’s writings, we submit to the Lake Report,” Frayne says.

The Rising Spirits Writing Contest, which Frayne says is bigger this year than it has ever been, is where their energy has been directed since assuming leadership.

This year, the group decided to branch out of the region and open contest submissions Ontario wide.

“We’ve had quite a few submissions,” West says.

The contest is a way for writer’s, both novice and experienced, to hold their writing up against others, he says. And it offers another platform to get their writing out there.

Each year, the circle publishes a book of all the contest winners.

Steinberg says she wouldn’t miss the contest celebration which will be held later this year.

“I have a lot of friends in town, so I’ll plan to make it down from time to time as well,” she says.

Sad at the prospect of leaving, Steinberg says she’ll certainly keep writing, and will likely seek out another writing group again once settled back in Toronto.

“I think as a writer it is important to be a part of a community. So, I will definitely be looking for that,” she says.

But the NOTL Writers’ Circle will always hold a special place for her, she says.

“Well I feel sad obviously. It’s a community I was a part of, and proud to be a part of, and I’ve met some wonderful friends,” she says. “It’s one of the most supportive communities for writers. I think we’ve accomplished a lot. Very ingrained into the cultural life of the town.”

But more than just the circle, Steinberg says she’s going to miss the town itself.

“I think it’s a very special place. There’s a lot of creative people in the town. There are so many people involved in the arts whether directly or indirectly. It’s a wonderful environment for anybody who wants to express themselves creatively – and I’ll miss that,” Steinberg says.

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