By Cynthia Robertson | SDUN Reporter
Inside the newly expanded Lestat’s on Adams Avenue, Judy Reeves, who is a co-leader of Thursday Writers, sat down in a red plush chair by the front window. She greeted the other writers who began arriving with pen and paper or laptops. Reeves considers all of them like family, even the two new people who were dropping in for the first time.
Both aspiring and accomplished writers look up to Reeves like a big sister. In many ways, she is the leader of the city’s writing community.
From 1993 to 1998, Reeves headed up the Writing Center in Hillcrest. It was a place where people could find their “writing selves,” so to speak, with Reeves leading the first drop-in Brown Bag groups. The Brown Bag was a lunchtime writing practice that Reeves initiated with a writing prompt, after which people would write for 40 minutes without putting down their pen.
Then in 1999, Reeves wrote “A Writer’s Book of Days,” which has just been re-released, with fresh, new writing prompts and essays about writers and the writing life.
Reeves then co-founded San Diego Writers Ink in 2004. The organization offers classes, readings, and Brown Bag groups for writers.
To several important literary figures within San Diego’s writing community, Reeves has been a mentor. Yet she looks to others as her inspiration.
“Some who were my students I now consider my teachers,” Reeves said during a recent interview.
Amy Wallen, who wrote with her in Brown Bag Writers, was also in her Read and Critique group for about a year. With Reeves, Wallen joined a group of students under Janet Fitch, a Los Angeles-based writer who is most well-known for her novel “White Oleander.”
“So we were basically students together,” Reeves said of herself and Wallen.
Reeves was helpful during the writing process of her novel “Moon Pies and Movie Stars.”
“I regularly attended Reeves’ Brown Bag writing practice groups where many scenes in my novel were inspired by her writing prompts,” Wallen said.
One of the most important scenes in Wallen’s book occurs when a little girl is tied to a front porch, which came from Reeves’ prompt, ‘Write about a front porch.’
“That scene drove the underlying theme of the story of child abandonment,” Wallen said.
Another locally well-known author, Debra Ginsberg, was a participant in one of Reeves’ Read and Critique groups.
Scott Barbour was also in her Read and Critique group as well as Thursday Writers.
“I’m having a couple of pieces published in the San Diego Writers Ink’s anthology this year,” Barbour said. “I never thought it would happen.”
Yet another writer touched by San Diego Writers Ink is Nicole Vollrath, who had met Reeves originally through Thursday Writers. Having earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College, Vollrath blossomed under Reeves’ encouragement, eventually serving as President of San Diego’s Writers Ink.
“[Reeves] believes every person has a story to tell and the world is a better place when they are shared,” Vollrath said.
But despite Reeves’ ability to inspire and encourage other writers, she said the favor has not gone unreturned.
“I tell you, I feel like the writers I work with regularly at the Brown Bags and Thursday Writers groups and my regular Wednesday Night Read and Critique group, these writers are my teachers and mentors, too,” Reeves said.