Since moving Central Florida in 2013, I met many great people in the region’s literary community. Some community members are part of Writer’s Atelier, a Winter Park, Fla. studio where storytellers can gather to attend classes, literary events, and get-togethers to write, socialize, and learn from one another and lend each other support.
Since author, editor, and writing instructor Racquel Henry founded Writer’s Atelier, the studio has thrived and continues to do so. I personally am a member of the Write Gym, a program that helps writers stay accountable with their work through weekly goal setting, check-ins, writing prompts and inspiration.
I’ve had the pleasure to interview Racquel about Writer’s Atelier for my blog.
How did you come to conceive and establish Writer’s Atelier?
Racquel Henry: Writer’s Atelier started as an editorial company. I was a book editor first. After I got my MFA, I realized I really enjoyed helping writers. I didn’t want to just write my feedback down, I wanted to share my knowledge by teaching. However, landing a job in academia is tough. I decided to take matters into my own hands and teach my own classes. The problem I ran into was that space was so expensive. I would look at writing centers like The Loft, Gotham, and Grub Street and think, wouldn’t it be cool if Orlando had something similar? And then it would solve my problem of finding reasonable space and maybe I could help other writers share their knowledge. I was also missing my writer friends from my MFA program outside of our residencies. I wanted writing friends that I saw more often than twice a year. I wanted to give writers a home. The rest is history.
Since you first opened Writer’s Atelier, how has it grown in terms of helping storytellers in Central Florida improve their craft?
RH: The studio opened its brick and mortar doors in 2014, but the company itself was officially established in 2012. My entry point was editing. I have worked on countless manuscripts, short stories, academic essays, and more. We solely did editing. Now we help writers to realize their talents and have the confidence to pursue their writing dreams. So not only do we edit books, but we host workshops, publish our own books on writing, have an accountability program, and have a general membership. We also offer free resources through our blog and YouTube channel, in addition to teaching free workshops across Florida. We give writers the tools they need to reach their potential regardless of what stage they’re in. Our writers have gone on to successfully publish their books and build their careers.
How is Writer’s Atelier different from other facilities that host writing workshops and offer safe spaces for authors?
RH: We insist on a safe space. I go out of my way to make sure I protect that safety. We are not just a writing group—we are a family. When a writer walks into our studio, they’ll find that everyone has a seat at our table.
How did your experiences as an author, editor, and adjunct professor help you establish and manage Writer’s Atelier?
RH: It was honestly the reverse. Writer’s Atelier taught me how to be a good educator, author, and editor. The more I teach, the more I learn how to teach. The more I edit books, the sharper my skillset becomes. The more I learn to market and be innovative, the better I am at doing that for my creative work.
What are your goals for Writer’s Atelier in 2020? What direction do you want to take it this year?
RH: Right now our first goal is to find a new permanent home. We’ve been hit with a bit of bad news—the studio will be torn down. However, we remain optimistic in finding a new (and maybe more ideal) space to call home. While we’re ironing out that detail, we plan to increase our online offerings and launch more books under our publishing division. I’d also love to reach more writers so we can create more impact! At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about—or I would have given up long ago.
Teresa Edmond-Sargeant is a journalist and author living in Orlando, Fla. Visit her Amazon author page to check out her titles.