by Basil Chui

One of Toronto Writers Collective’s partners, Mood Disorders Ottawa, or MDO, held a recital in late March, allowing its writers to share their stories and talents with the group’s wider membership. Twelve participants from around Ontario shared their writing to a Zoom audience of over fifty.

The recital was the brainchild of Sharon Roberts, a longtime member of MDO, and their program’s coordinator at the time, who has been facilitating TWC workshops since MDO has been offering them in the spring of 2020.

“I can’t wait each week to see what our writers have in store for us. I don’t know how or where they come up with those ideas, but they inspire me. They have ideas I didn’t even consider when I wrote the prompts. But getting those ideas out helps with my own mental health recovery,” she said. “And the best thing is: it’s fun! I’ve been leading [other] writing workshops for a few years now, but with TWC, I’m getting better and it doesn’t feel like work.”

It was so fun, in fact, she reckoned writers might take their recovery another step by sharing their stories to a wider audience.

“It’s the next step for me: to speak my truth and say, ‘This is who I am. I can be part of the world again.’ So at the end of one night, I asked if it would be OK for me and others to share some of our favourite pieces at the end of the winter session,” she said. “Next thing I knew, I was organising a recital with fellow writers I’ve come to know and respect: Kegan Chang, Danielle Peron-Roach, Janet Creery and Basil Chiu.”

Creery, TWC’s Ottawa representative, was impressed.

“I brought TWC to Ottawa about a year ago because it looked like a good idea,” she said. “I never thought a year later, there’d be so many people so touched and moved by TWC. I never thought we’d have a recital.”