February 20, 2016

How Writers Cafe Was Born - Joylene M. Bailey

In late 2012 I was becoming desperate for like-minded people. We had been living in Edmonton for 5 years, and I was missing my writer’s group in Saskatchewan. I started thinking that surely there must be other writers out there who felt the same way I did. Maybe I should start a group of my own.

But then all the scary thoughts started plowing through my mind:

- I can’t lead a group! What do I know about writing?
- I need them; they don’t need me.
- Do I really want one more commitment in my already busy life?
- Is there a set protocol for writers groups? I don’t even know what I’m doing.
- Will anybody show up? If I build it, will they come?

But the insistent thought Maybe I should start a group wouldn’t go away. It kept popping its happy head up through all of the negative noise. Gradually I came to realize that this wasn’t just a thought I had come up with on my own. God had put it there. He was nudging me to start a group.

I prayed and prayed, asking God to show me if this idea was really from Him.
LORD, please give me a sign that this is Your idea.

January 2013, just before my husband and I left for a 2 week holiday, a mass email came out to all InScribe members in the Edmonton area: there are no Christian writers groups in Edmonton. Would anyone be willing to start one?

There was my sign.

Still, I hesitated.

We went on our holiday, where that email was never far from my mind. I continued to pray for direction and courage. And I started to get excited.

When we got home I replied to the email. The response was that there had been one other who had shown interest in starting a group. I was given her email address.

We met for coffee. In our conversation we realized that we each had different visions for a group and decided to each start one – meeting at different times of the month and in different parts of the city - and see how that went. We both set our start dates for May.

From March to May our groups were advertised through InScribe’s different venues: website, FellowScript, listserv. I also contacted a couple of writer acquaintances I knew.

When May 8 rolled around I was nervous.
Five strangers showed up, and it was obvious from the start that these people were as anxious as I was to be around other writers. We immediately clicked. I saw that all of my hesitancy and nervousness had been unnecessary. Hadn’t I believed that God had nudged me to start this group? I should have been confident that He would bring the people He wanted and that it would be a safe place from the start.

We met again in June and before we broke for the summer we had decided on a name, based on what people were looking for in a writing group:


And Writers CAFÉ was born.

In September a few more people joined.  Over the years, others have come along. Some tested the waters for a short time and didn’t stay, but the core people have been around from the beginning. At present we have 10 committed members who come every month. One of our members travels 2 hours, one way, to be with us. 

We range from beginning writer to published author; cover genres from children’s books to poetry, fiction, non-fiction, script writing, and blogs. Each writer is on her own writing journey. Each voice is unique. But we all come together in unity and mutual respect.

I discovered I really didn’t need to worry about leading. I host and facilitate but we all learn from each other. We have become a sisterhood, and the trust we have established is of inestimable worth.   

God is present. It is His group, after all. Together He is molding us and making us into the writers He wants us to be so that we will use our gifts in our unique ways to make Him known.

I love Writers Café, individually and as a group. I have ventured places in my writing that I never would have dared without their encouragement. And their prayers have moved mountains in personal lives.

God is doing marvelous things in and through Writers Café, and it wouldn't have happened this way if I hadn’t been obedient to God’s nudge.


  1. As one of the blessed members of Writers Cafe, I can attest to all Joy has said about our group. When God brings people together, it is good.

    (And I must highlight this sentence, Joy. "But the insistent thought ...... kept popping its happy head up through all of the negative noise.") The way you describe things always makes me smile:

    1. Can't you just see that gopher head popping up amidst the yuckiness, absolutely, incongruently jolly. :) That's the picture. Thanks Bobbi.

  2. Anonymous8:08 am GMT-7

    Thank you for being obedient! It's through our experiences, I believe, that we learn to take these leaps of faith with less hesitancy and nervousness each time. And learning from others act on obedience. Thank you for sharing yours! And being a fabulous facilitator.

    1. True. Every faith step makes the next one a little more do-able. Thank you Lynn.

  3. this is so encouraging, Joy. Obedience to God's leading is the key. I wish I lived in Edmonton so I could come visit your group!

  4. I wish that too, Tracy. Maybe someday if you're ever in the area. :)

  5. Joy, the group in Saskatoon was such an inspiration, wasn't it? Missing it and knowing I needed the support was why I also started a group, to. Like God's Kingdom, we are moved away to spread the message. Good job!

  6. Yes it was. How I missed it when I left ... but first I missed you when you left! I like your take on it though - moved away to spread the message. Thanks.

  7. Thank you so much for being obedient to God's nudge. I have thanked God many, many MANY times for this group--It has not just moved me forward in my writing, it has moved me and been my "go to" prayer team these last couple of years. God is so good.

    1. Yes He is so good. And, like Bobbi said, when God brings people together it is good.

  8. Anonymous3:44 am GMT-7

    Violet Moore here: I love how patient God is with us, nudging until we can't resist. :) Our group, the Steinbach Inksters, was also started rather naively, - but has been the main reason why I continue to write and to self-publish. The encouragement, the accountability, and the learning from each other's strengths are beyond all expectations. To be reminded that I could write to honor God while I was writing for fun was most delightful. Also to learn about POV has affected not only my writing but my whole life. We all see life from a different point of view - to be able to recognize that different is not right or wrong is very freeing! Removes the need to judge. Frees one to be oneself AND allows the other person to be themselves. Good stuff - well for me anyway.
    Thx for sharing. So good to hear about how blessing follows obedience.

    1. "To be reminded that I could write to honor God while I was writing for fun" ... That was, and continues to be, life changing for me. And yes it is delightful. 😊

  9. Thank you for sharing this story … how wonderful to see what happens when we follow the nudges. Support is important and God knows we need it.

    1. And He knows we need lessons in obedience too. I wonder how many times I have missed out on blessings because of my lack of obedience.
      Thanks Jocelyn.

  10. Thanks, Joylene, for this enthusiastic background report on the inception of your CAFE group. (I love your acrostic--Community, Accountability, Feedback, Encouragement--which is exactly what every writer's group needs.)

    I am smiling, because I was the Satellite Group Coordinator at the time and I was the one "stirring the pot" to get a writing group started in Edmonton. Looking behind the scenes, God was stirring my mind to see what could be done about this need--hence the mass letter. At the same time, God was working in you to do something yourself about your need for writing companionship. i.e. If you were looking for a community of writers, there must be others walking across the same bridge.

    Isn't God's timing impeccable! May God continue you to bless you and your writing group.


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