Community writing workshops can be as fun as a bar full of football hooligans

The Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing at Loyola University New Orleans will host the second of what will be a regular docket of community writing workshops beginning this September with Stephen Rea, author of Finn McCool’s Football Club: The Birth, Death and Resurrection of a Pub Soccer Team in the City of the Dead.  The workshop will focus on writing well-crafted fiction.

I had the pleasure of attending the first Walker Percy Center community writing workshop last winter, led by Press Street’s own Anne Gisleson, who taught us a thing or two about writing personal essays. Unlike the MFA workshops I dropped into while attending grad school, which were mostly filled with pretentious blowhard nerds (admittedly, pretentious blowhard nerds I now count as close friends), community writing classes often offer a more colorful assortment of characters. In the personal essay workshop, I enjoyed the bombastic ramblings of a millionaire lawyer who stumbled in one evening drunk on (and still drinking) vodka, the nervous enthusiasm of a romance-novel writer trying to get her bearings on how to render her recent divorce on the page, the earnest confessions of a young graphic designer who wrote about how the months following Hurricane Katrina were some of the best of his life, the hilarious portrait of a local political celebrity written by one of the city’s foremost investigative journalists, and, of course, lots of great feedback on my own work.

In a way, this motley crew sounds akin to the group of hooligans that, in part, inspired Stephen Rea to write his Finn McCool’s book. The Irish transplant and world traveler stumbled into the famous Mid-City bar one evening to catch a game of football (soccer, Americans) on television and found himself surrounded by Irish Catholics and Protestants drinking in harmony, a retired Scotch footballer, a South African political activist, a Dutch national, and a slew of other eccentrics, both local and expat. Rea will surely thrive in the community workshop atmosphere, doling out advice to a hodgepodge of aspiring writers as deftly as he yells it to midfielders on the big screen at Finn McCool’s after he’s had a few pints (or, more deftly, I’m sure).

The workshop will take place on Tuesdays from 7 – 9 p.m. for eight weeks, beginning September 27. It costs a meager $250 (though it’s not for Loyola credit). Writers of all skill levels are welcome to apply, and should do so by emailing a brief introduction and a 1 – 10 page writing sample to Annie Goldman at by September 13.

For more information, visit check out the Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing.