Courtesy John Rice

Self-promotion does not come naturally to me. Blowing my own horn makes me uncomfortable. However, because I’m starting a business under an assumed name, I’m required to publish a notice in the local newspaper. So I’m compelled by law to tell you we’re starting Write on Madison at 7502 ½ Madison. 

We’re having a “soft opening” for our writing school on June 20, 2016, at 6 p.m.  We’re inviting Forest Park business owners and assorted well-wishers to stop by to see what we’re about. Todd & Holland is generously donating tea and we’re serving dessert. 

We could not have launched this enterprise without the invaluable assistance of Alexis Ellers, who designed our website, (Alexis also set up our Facebook page). Our website is so easy to use, even I can navigate it. You’ll find we offer adult writing classes on Monday evenings and kid’s classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. We are also available for one-on-one counseling, MTW from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition to Alexis’ help, a UIC student named Genevieve Lotus designed our cool logo. I also have two teaching partners from UIC. Franki Dolley is a Forest Parker who has taught writing to children through the Community Center and worked with kids at the library. She will be in charge of the kids’ classes. Franki loves writing and teaching and is also working on a novel.

Lucia Whalen, another village resident, also loves writing and teaching. She’s an English major at UIC and helps students in the school’s writing center. She is a gifted writer and has published some lively pieces in the Review. Lucia will be available for one-on-one consulting.

I’ve been writing for the Review and Wednesday Journal for close to 30 years. I have to be getting better at it. [Editor’s note: This week John won second place in the Feature Writing category of the Illinois Press Association contest.]

The main reason I want to start a writing school is that I miss teaching. I spent three years as chairman of the English Department at a French school in the Loop, before it was abruptly closed in a corporate takeover. During that time, I developed a writing course that worked. Again, I don’t want to sing my own praises. I’ll let my former boss Pauline Bachy do it. “John is creative, reliable and loyal. He developed a very comfortable relationship with his students. John has a fantastic teaching approach and excellent writing skills.”

I believe this same approach will work with American kids and adults. As Lucia says, our course covers the entire writing spectrum. We will write essays, poetry, persuasive letters, fiction — you name it. We also will do some practical writing: cover letters, resumes and college essays. We can offer one-on-one help with whatever writing the student is interested in.

Oops, just ended a sentence in a preposition. We’ll cover grammar, too. Our slogan is “Creating a Community of Writers, One Word at a Time.” We will break down the emotional barriers to writing and instill confidence in our students. We’ll help them develop their unique voice and consistent writing habits.

We’re going to produce a monthly collection of student work called “Write of Passage.” We plan to distribute journals and pens to our students, bearing our logo. We’re partnering with businesses on Madison Street, like Forest Printing, and doing our banking at Forest Park National Bank. 

When I was looking for a creative writing course, I wanted three things: assignments, accountability and feedback. That’s what we’ll provide. We have a passion to teach what is becoming a lost art in this post-literate age. It will be fun. 

As Pauline used to say, “I only hear laughter from your classroom.” 

 John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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