NOVI, MI (June 7, 2017) -- Arnetta Whitehouse has loved writing ever since she was a little girl. When she was just seven years old, her aunt predicted that Arnetta would become an author.
Arnetta took a lot of writing and advanced English courses in high school and college, and though she went into elementary education, she says, "I never lost my love of writing. Writing is what I turn to when I need to clear my head."
Now retired from teaching and living at Fox Run, Arnetta has been able to focus even more on her passion. When she moved to Fox Run, there were memoir-writing clubs and a poetry and prose group, but Arnetta was looking for something slightly different. She started a new group called the Writers' Forum.
"I wanted a group where you can write about whatever you want and share it with other people, and if people have an eye on publishing [their work], they would have people to help with sentence structure and other editing," Arnetta explains. "So this group grew out of those ideas."
The Writers' Forum now has ten members whose writing runs the gamut from poetry to fiction to personal essays.
George Smith, for instance, often writes about science, music, or other intellectual topics. J.V. Anandan, who is from India, writes about his life and his travels. Some members like to write about their military service. And one man, who grew up near Fox Run, writes about the history of the area.
For her part, Arnetta writes everything from poetry to nonfiction pieces about her personal experiences.
"We have one lady who is into sestinas, which is an ancient form of poetry," Arnetta says. "She is really adept, and we are all in awe because it is so complicated."
The members of the Writers' Forum meet once a month. They take turns sharing their latest pieces and offer feedback to one another.
"The person who wrote the piece reads it, and we all have copies so we can see it too," Arnetta says. "It's nice because we can hear their inflections and get their meanings while they're reading aloud."
The Writers' Forum also shares its work with the broader Fox Run community. At the end of each quarter, Arnetta compiles everything the group has written, proofreads and formats it, and puts copies in binders that are stored in the community's common areas.
"They get quite a bit of use," Arnetta says. "People find them delightful to read while waiting for dinner because they're written by their friends and neighbors, and the pieces cover all aspects of life because everybody writes about different stuff."
From time to time, the Writers' Forum hosts a special guest, such as a local author. One of their most memorable guests was Bonnie Virag, the award-winning author of The Stovepipe, a memoir that chronicles Virag's turbulent childhood spent in foster homes. In addition to discussing her own work, Virag also made herself available to help the members of the Writers' Forum hone their craft.
"She wanted to read our work too and be on our email list," Arnetta says.