After using the left side of his brain as a mechanical engineer for 40 years, Russell Case decided to focus on his creative side; he began writing 10 years ago.
"Writing gives me an opportunity to exercise the other side of my brain," said Case.
As a member and facilitator of the Short Prose Critique Group, Case and several other writers meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month at Providence United Methodist Church to discuss their work.
"If a member chooses to share their work for critique, they send it to the other members via e-mail ahead of time so the other members can review it," said Case.
At the meeting, the author will read a portion of their work while the others follow along. The author may ask the members to listen for certain things, such as story flow, credibility, dialogue, etc.
"We have a rule that all comments must be constructive," said Case.
The Providence UMC critique group is just one of many writers groups that are part of the Charlotte Writers Club, an 80-year-old organization for Charlotte-area writers. The club was founded by A.L. Kimball in 1922 when she discovered there was no meeting place for writers in the city.
Although 10 writers are on the Providence UMC group's roster, Case said, only four to six members attend the meetings regularly.
Case, who moved to North Carolina after living in Virginia, Tennessee and Delaware, writes creative nonfiction and travel articles. His articles have been published in North Carolina Traveler and Carologue magazine. Currently he's writing an article about his experience on the Erie Canal in New York.
Case's blog titled "Ramblings of a Retired Engineer" shows some of his writing chops. Case writes about such topics as trying to find the perfect Wi-Fi hotspot, taking writing classes, life observations and his discovery of yoga after getting a "crick in his back."
Case said that writers who have influenced him include "Cold Mountain" author Charles Frazier; Ron Rash, author of the novel "One Foot in Eden"; and novelist, playwright and screenwriter Robert Inman, a resident of both Charlotte and Boone.
Another Short Prose Critique Group member who cites Inman as an influence is Jerry Landry. A member of the group for a year and a CWC member for three years, Landry, 27, said being in the critique group has helped him become a more confident writer.
"The group members work together to help one another become the best writers that we can possibly be," he said.
Landry, who said Samuel Beckett, Salman Rushdie and Audre Lorde also have influenced him, has had work published in Jackson Free Press, Stylus, Central Speak and Pemmican.
Annie Maier, who has been a Prose Critique Group and CWC member for three years, said participating in the group sessions is immensely motivating.
"Not only do I get valuable feedback on writing, but I also have this wonderful group that is supportive and holds me accountable from month to month," she said.
Maier, who is pursuing an M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing at Naropa University in Colorado, has had work published in Spinning Words to Gold, the CWC anthology, Only Connect and the Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets.