Spilt Ink: The Writers’ Group

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Early Days.
     The concept of Spilt Ink arose in the minds of two of its founding members, whose initial effort to make it a reality proved abortive. Subsequently an organizational meeting was held at the invitation of Diana Roberts and Geoffrey Skinner on April 6, 1995. Five people attended, and the writers’ group was launched. We met fairly regularly for more than four years, with a few layovers occasioned by schedule conflicts or vacationing members. In its first incarnation, Spilt Ink operated by consensus, under informal guidelines agreed to at the first meeting. Aside from these, there were no formal rules, bylaws, or authority structure. Initially, our primary focus was on criticism of member writings composed between meetings, with occasional in-group writing exercises.
     Of necessity, our activities gradually acquired more structure. The need to keep track of what pieces had been distributed and which had or had not been reviewed led to the keeping of minutes. A group handbook including addresses and bibliographies of member writings followed in the fall of the first year. Out of no need at all, the earliest version of our website was established shortly afterwards. Having a presence on the Internet did, however, highlight the unresolved issue of a name for the group.
     Due to our informal organization we had had some difficulty deciding what to call ourselves. Initially we simply referred to ourselves as “the writers’ group.” An early address list circulated by Geoffrey floated the term “The Group of Five.” Brian Kunde proposed “Spilled Ink” after the meeting of November 13, 1995, which was provisionally adopted at the meeting of November 27, 1995. When Geoffrey later found that “Spilled Ink” was already the title of two unrelated literary publications, we decided a change was in order. Spilt Ink, a variant previously suggested by Anita Aleyassin, was adopted at our January 9, 1996 meeting. This name too has since been used by others, but as we came first this time we saw no need for further amendment. (For other Spilt and Spilled Inks, see our Links section.)

Growing Pains.
     Our numbers remained stable at five for nearly a year. Then, in the spring of 1996, two members departed in quick succession. One left permanently; the other would later return for a time. A drive for new members that summer netted one new recruit, soon offset by the departure of a third original member. An additional two new members came on board in the winter and spring of 1997. Over time our active membership has varied from three to six, the former having proven the minimum needed to sustain the group.
     During 1997 the idea was floated to compile an anthology of group writings. The project took quite a while to get off the ground, with some participants more enthusiastic than others, and most were slow to submit finished pieces. First envisioned as an annual chapbook, The Spilt Ink Sampler eventually took shape as an Internet publication in the fall of that year. At present the works of four members are represented in it.
     Our guidelines were revised during the winter of 1997-98 to better reflect the way we operated at that time and to address various concerns. Thereafter, our meetings were more evenly divided between critiquing and in-group writing through September 1998, when member attrition resulted in a three-month suspension of operations. Down once more to an active membership of three, we resumed activities in January 1999, continuing until the end of July, when additional attrition forced another suspension of operations, this time for over a year.

     On September 7, 2000, following some weeks of consultation between members, Spilt Ink was reconstituted as an email critiquing group, with new guidelines appropriate to that role. In our new incarnation, we at first focused exclusively on criticism, though we resumed occasional writing exercises later in the fall, once we had determined how best to conduct them by email. Since the group no longer truly “met,” the meeting minutes were discontinued and replaced as a record of the group’s activities by a series of proceedings.
     The subsequent evolution of the group has been in the direction of greater flexibility, as interests diversified and procedures loosened. Writing exercises are again a thing of the past, as are the proceedings. Current operations are occasional, completely informal and almost exclusively by email. Membership continues to be by invitation of the current active members. The group’s records (such as they are) and web pages are maintained by Brian Kunde.

This page is occasionally updated. Check regularly for changes and additions.
© 1995-2009 by Spilt Ink.
This page was established Jul. 22, 1998,
and last updated May 19, 2009.