In early 2008 I was hitchhiking across Botswana on a standing room only bus, hanging on with white knuckles as the driver dodged goats and potholes at 80 kilometers per hour. I was 3 months into Africa.
"I have GOT to write some of this down," I said to myself.
In that moment I decided to turn my adventure into a book.
Two years and one NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) later I had a 60,000-word manuscript, but no idea what to do with it.
My old high school friend Kelvin casually suggested I try a workshop run by this guy he knew. That "guy" turned out to be Sam Hiyate, a Toronto literary agent who had an uncanny way of turning drafts into published books, a man who had spent 20+ years working with bestsellers.
One Saturday class in his living room turned into two dozen. Each week Sam and the group picked apart my work and my literary powers grew.
With what I learned on Sam's well-worn blue couch, I took my writing to a new level, and started to get paid well to do it.
Ah an origin story, how exciting...
Sam and I lost touch for a while but reconnected over coffee in January 2017. We compared notes on the myriad writer groups in Toronto and came away less than impressed, so we decided to start our own on Meetup.com. Our group is still kickin' if you're in Toronto and want to come say hi.
We started with 20 members, then 500 found us, and now we have more than 2,000. We felt the heat of the burning desire writers had to not only come together with their peers but to learn how to write better and get published.
But, there was only so much we could do to give writers a hand-up at a 2-hour social gathering once a month, so we started organizing formal workshops. Then 1-on-1 meetings with Sam. We added new agents to the mix, and we continued to grow.
Eventually it became clear that we needed to bring what we were doing in Toronto to writers around the world, and so we moved the party online. In a nutshell, that's how you got here.
I am convinced that all of the world's problems can be solved by empowering people. If I can help move us in that direction by giving people a voice and a platform for their stories, well then I'll never have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
Sam and all of my co-organizers and I are fiercely single minded about helping writers (that's you) improve your writing and publish your work.
Have a look around our website to see how we can help:
— Mike Pietrzak, Your Friendly Group Organizer
Have a question? Contact us.