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A lifetime of fodder

Riderwood retirees find time, opportunity to explore writing

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February 16th, 2017
Riderwood resident Ion Deaton published a book about his journey growing up in the hills of Appalachia. He currently leads the Silver Spring, Md., Erickson Living community’s writers guild.

Riderwood resident Ion Deaton published a book about his journey growing up in the hills of Appalachia. He currently leads the Silver Spring, Md., Erickson Living community’s writers guild.

At some point in their lives, many people feel the desire to try their hand at writing. After all, even if your career was in an unrelated field—say science, technology or academia—you probably still had some opportunities to write. And if you enjoyed it, then you might be tempted to find out if you’re any good.

Community members at Riderwood can take advantage of an interesting opportunity to discover and improve their writing skills through the resident-run writers guild. The group of about 20 aspiring writers meets every month to share and discuss their writing projects. 

“They can come and read something they have written and get verbal feedback from the group, which I think is helpful to writers, especially in the beginning,” says Ion Deaton, the current leader of the writers guild.

A publication of their own

Having reached at least the age of sixty-two, the people living at Riderwood have inevitably had many interesting life experiences—which provides excellent fodder for their writing.

“People usually write about personal experiences,” Ion says. “Veterans might write about their military service, or people write about raising kids and their families.”

The writers guild also provides a unique chance for Riderwood writers to see their names in print and share their work with the entire community. The group produces a quarterly publication called Tales From Riderwood

The 15- to 24-page periodical is a compilation of memoirs, resident interviews, and biographical sketches; human-interest pieces about events at Riderwood; short original poems; and fictional essays. 

“I collect the stories, and we have a team of editors. We all review the tales we get each month and decide which ones to publish,” Ion explains.

One member of the group is skilled at publication design and layout, so she puts all of the stories and photographs together. Tales From Riderwood is available at the community’s front desk of each clubhouse, so all residents have a chance to grab a copy when it comes out.

The members of the writers guild have a broad range of experience levels, from complete novices to published authors. Ion says anyone interested in writing may join or submit a piece to the editorial board for possible publication in Tales From Riderwood.

The writers guild also supports aspiring writers with other related events. In the past, they’ve hosted a book-signing event, a self-publishing workshop, and open-mic readings. 

The natural next step

Ion retired from his career as an electrical engineer about ten years ago. He did a lot of technical writing on the job and had articles published in trade journals, but he didn’t have much opportunity to write on personal topics until he moved to Riderwood.

The people who live at Riderwood enjoy maintenance-free living, which gives them more time to spend doing the things they truly enjoy. For Ion, that has been exploring his knack for writing. 

“I really enjoy writing,” he says. “Since I have been here, I have written a number of articles that have appeared in Tales From Riderwood.”

Ion took his writing a step further and self-published a book about his life entitled Tales From Appalachia’s Ionic One: Early Hill Years to Senior Moments

In the book, he draws on his unique experiences growing up—and ultimately leaving—the coal-mining hills of southeastern Kentucky. As a young boy, Ion attended a one-room schoolhouse in Appalachia. But with determination and support from his family, he went on to graduate from college and have a successful career.

“If we wanted to go to high school, we had to take a train,” he says. “My father couldn’t afford that, so we moved to Dayton, Ohio, where I attended high school. My father was wise enough to know he didn’t want his sons working in the coal mines all their lives—it’s a killer job.”

Ion’s book is available for sale on Amazon (amazon.com) and is stocked in several university libraries as well as in Riderwood’s on-site library. 

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