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Writing family stories

Through the years, Judy Bridges has helped many write their stories.

She will do so again during a program from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, at the Waupaca Community Arts Center.

“I’m working on my family stories myself,” said Bridges.

During the Oct. 23 program, she will help participants get the courage to write, decide where to begin, get started, bring characters to life, deal with the “tough stuff” and have fun while they are writing.

At a recent conference for writers that she attended, the question was asked as to how many received encouragment from a teacher, aunt or grandmother when they were children, being told that writing was something they were good at.

“I never did anything with it until I was in my 30s,” said Bridges. “I didn’t get serious about making a living at it until I was 40.”

She was 43 when she got her bachelor’s degree in writing and 53 when she got a master’s degree in adult education.

At 53, she also founded Riverbird Studio in Milwaukee’s Bayview area.

That was after earning her living as a writer of short stories, maagazine articles, plays and corporate communication.

At Redbird Studio, Bridges ran three to five workshops a week for adults. Over the course of 17 years, thousands of people attended. “We quit counting at 6,000,” she said.

She also does writing retreats and last spring, was at Waupaca’s arts center for a program about writing.

“That was more about general writing,” Bridges said. “This one will be more specific about writing about yourself and your family.”

Bridges and her husband Dave Blank have a place near Bear Creek and are fans of the arts center.

She self published Shut Up & Write!

The book came out last November and is now going on its second printing.

Bridges says she self published it, because she wanted to maintain control of the book. “It’ selling like mad,” she said. “In less than a year, 2,000 books are gone.”

These days, she is focusing more on her own writing.

You Drive – You’re too Drunk to Sing is the title of the book she is currently working on, and she has three plays in mind to write.

Of her upcoming program at the arts center, she says, “Whether you decide to write a book or just a few stories to tell your grandchildren, I applaud your adventure. Few gifts are as meaningful as sharing your story.”

To register for the writing family stories program, call 715-258-3741 or go to www.wcacenter.com. The fee is $25, with all proceeds going to the Waupaca Community Arts Center.

The center is located at 200 N. Main and open from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

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