What is Gertrude’s Writing Room?

 

A DREAM COME TRUE

In the 1920s, Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas opened their home at 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris to writers, painters, actors, musicians and creative souls from around the globe. Saturday evenings held salons, and lavish meals and parties lasted into the early morning hours. This was a space where creativity flowed even more than wine. Stein welcomed artists of all types and talents into conversations that both challenged and motivated their creative passions.

That is the intention at Gertrude’s Writing Room. This is a gathering space for writers of all types and talents. While all creative people are welcome, our goal is to cultivate creative writing through workshops, classes, mentoring, editing, and events that showcase our passion and dedication to the written word as a powerful tool for self-expression.

“You will write, if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper…” Gertrude Stein in an interview with John Hyde Preston.

The spirit of Stein and the roaring passion for creativity that exploded in Paris in the 1920s lives on at Gertrude’s Writing Room. The tea is always flowing and the croissants are always warm here at Gertrude’s Writing Room!

HISTORY OF THE DREAM

In 2008, while eight months pregnant on a writing retreat, owner of Gertrude’s Writing Room Vanessa Shields visited Paris. Walking the arrondissement of Montmarte and taking in the smells, sounds and sights of its rich artistic life and history, and writing in the cafes that Hemingway and Fitzgerald wrote in, Shields was overcome with a dream.

Le Select, Paris, 2008.

A dream to create a space for artists that held the spirit of Paris in the 1920s – passionate, powerfully creative, and friendship-fuelled began to germinate. Like Gertrude Stein at 27 Rue de Fleurus opened her mind, home and heart to artists from around the world, so too would Shields’ dream space be a place – a ‘home’ – where artists gathered to create, share and celebrate their work.

Owner Vanessa Shields reading her poetry in front of Shakespeare and Co. Bookstore, Paris, France. 2008

In a blog post written on December 8, 2015, Shields shared her dream to open Gertrude’s Literary Cafe – the dream space that bloomed in her heart when she discovered Paris so many years ago. Alas, this dream in all its hopeful energy seemed nearly impossible to bring to life beyond her soul. After beginning a small business course and enduring a terrible fall, it seemed to Shields that this dream was too big to handle in both application and execution. It was too ‘dreamy’ to actually exist in the real-world. Time helped heal Shields’ knee injury as well as help bring clarity to the dream of opening a storefront literary space and cafe.

Shields realized that perhaps the dream needed tweaking. Like her poetry and stories needed editing and revisions, so too did her dream to create a space for artists. Knowing that teaching and mentoring were her passion, Shields took an objective look at what she could realistically create using the time, finances, energy and spaces available to her. Keeping in mind that family comes first, Shields realized that a small-step approach to bringing Gertrude’s Literary Cafe to life was key to its success.

After revising her grand dream to own and operate a storefront cafe, Shields chose to start with a small space – an office and shared teaching room – where creative writing is cultivated like flowers in a garden. Thus, Gertrude’s Writing Room is born.

Keeping the spirit of Stein’s 1920s Paris alive through the design, decorating and energy of the space, Shields endeavours to bring to life in her hometown of Windsor, Ontario, a renewed burst of creative writing excellence for writers from around the world.

Gertrude’s Writing Room is open! Do come in and pull up a pen.

*Photo credit of Gertrude Stein: Photo from: http://hemingwaysparis.blogspot.com/2006/06/glimpse-of-gertrude-stein.html
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