ALAMEDA -- It began in August 1977, when nine local writers who had met in a creative writing course in the Adult Education Program decided to create Writers West. And more than three decades later, it's still in town.

Currently, the writer's group has eight members, some of whom have published their work in books, magazines and newspapers. They meet monthly to help one another by discussing their writing with critiques and suggestions. Violet Grayson joined the group in 1994 after moving here from the East Coast.

"I believe in Writers West," said the 87-year-old who began writing in 1986. She started out with children's stories but gave it up after receiving a number of rejections from publishers. She decided to try a new approach, using her experiences for stories, including the four times her cat left her house after she had moved from one end of town to the other.

Grayson was delighted when the national magazine "Cat Fancy" published it.

Like other Writers West members, she has published pieces also for newspapers and other magazines and is self-publishing her third book based on her parents, grandparents and her own experiences growing up in Rhode Island farm country.

Her advice to writers: "Join a group. Writing is fun when the muse starts working, but it can be a lonely existence. Writers need other peoples' input on their work. That's why I looked for a writers group when I got here. We concentrate on helping each other with our manuscripts."

She also advises writers to write what they like to write because it's easier and more enjoyable. That said, she added that people who want to make a lot of money and be successful may have to write on topics they're told to write about.

The group meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in Conference Room C at Alameda Hospital, 2070 Clinton Ave. However, the location in January will be at the Women's Health Center just past the gift shop in the hospital. New and veteran writers are welcome and need not give notice to attend a meeting. Annual dues are $10 to offset costs.

FYI
To read about other Writers West members and for contact information go to www.writerswest.org.