The Heartland Women’s Writers Guild meets at the Morrison-Talbott library in Waterloo every month. Some members come and go, but 11 women have been meeting there every month since 1998. They come from four southwestern Illinois counties. The group, originally formed by creative writing teacher Roselyn Mathews, meets to share each member’s poems, short stories or essays about their lives and to receive constructive criticism from the other group members.
Lori Becherer, group member from Millstadt and a member of Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, says, “We have become family, sharing and supporting each other through the joys and challenges of life. The most rewarding part of the journey has been in bringing laughter, inspiration and hope to our readers.”
Becherer and 10 other group members joined together to compile their best work into a book. Orchids in the Cornfield: Collected Writings of the Heartland Women’s Writers Guild was published in December 2005 and had a second printing this spring.
These women are not professional writers. They range in age from 37 to 93 years old and come from a diverse selection of backgrounds. They consist of a local farmer’s daughter, a military wife, a teacher, a hospice volunteer, a lawyer, a painter, a retiree, a Netherlands native, and that’s just to name a few. They are mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, writing about their lives and personal events that have touched them.
The book consists of 12 chapters such as, “Bird Songs Band On The Drums Of Daylight, With Johnny Cash As My Witness, I Was Lucky To Have Been There and Life Cannot Be Lived Or Measured In A Straight Line.”
The book’s Web site www.geocities.com/orchidsinthecornfield features testimonials. Sharon Mundy of Millstadt says, “The writing captures what it means to be a ‘Midwest Woman’ in funny, ironic, heartwarming and sometimes painful reflections of our lifestyle and countryside.”
Beverly Manning of Columbia says, “It’s just like us. It’s our background, our area, people like us, writing these, and it hits home. We understand them.”