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TuesdaySeptember 2012

It’s a pretty common fundraising model: a generous soul does something difficult and asks friends and family for donations to support a favorite cause. It’s common because, well, it works. It’s inspiring! It’s fun to see your friends achieve good things! In the past we’ve had tons of fun with fundraising efforts like this, from Euchre and Skrabble for Cheaters to our Spelling Bee for Cheaters to the Big House, Big Heart 5k run (No Cheating Allowed).

That’s why we’re excited to be joining five other literary nonprofits in The Great Write-Off! TGWO is a friendly competition wherein writers join a team for their favorite nonprofit, set writing goals for the days between October 3 and October 5, and then solicit donations in support of that goal. (Of course, all the proceeds go to support various literary arts programs — in our case, our free creative writing workshops for students aged 6-18!)

We’ve got a great group of folks on Team 826michigan, with ambitious writing goals ranging from writing a screenplay to completing a collection of short stories, and their fundraising efforts have been ambitious as well: So far, Team 826michigan has raised over $1,500! (And there’s still a week to go!)

Amy Scheer is one member of Team 826michigan who has taken an early lead in our internal fundraising contests. Last week, we challenged writers to secure the most individual donation — a prize which Amy ran away with handily. Amy’s project is so cool, so inspiring, that we couldn’t help but share a bit about it with you now.

Amy is very close to her fundraising goal of $1000 in support of her work on her manuscript Frames, a true story of family, death, drugs, and forgiveness.

Here’s how Amy describes Frames:

On August 21, 2004, at 4:45pm, Marilyn Jansma slowed her Honda CR-V into a line to pay toll on a Chicago highway. Kevin Jansma, home in Iowa, played blocks with their son, Trey, a toddler. A Chicago car mechanic, tired from a raucous all-night birthday celebration, left work and fell asleep at the wheel.

The crash that resulted killed Marilyn, shattering the lives of all who knew this spirited church leader and budding clinical psychologist. And it forever changed the man who took her life.

Frames presents a picture of this real-life tragedy and its hopeful end by letting the central characters speak for themselves. First-hand accounts stand side by side, forming an elegant and complex narrative collage. Interviews with the young widower and driver, as well as excerpts from Marilyn’s journals and other primary source materials, draw in the reader with their highly personal revelations.

Part oral history, part elegy, Frames displays moments in poignant pairings. Tales of a church group awaiting news of the accident and faithfully reciting the Lord’s Prayer sit alongside a recounting of the meeting of Kevin and the driver – which began with the same prayer and ended with Kevin saying, “I forgive you.”

When Kevin would later make plans to remarry, he encountered a new set of difficulties. His mother, overwhelmed in her grief, became preoccupied with the space on her mantelpiece. If there will be a second wedding, what should she do with the first framed bride and groom?

Her question becomes a metaphor for Frames, showing that the many snapshots of our lives rarely stand alone, and one picture of death, drugs and forgiveness has lessons for us all.

As to the writer herself, Amy Scheer teaches theatre and exercise and also writes. She’s been in a boxing ring with the current bantamweight world champion, and has competed in powerlifting events alongside men with no necks. She blogs about the intersection of these interests at http://betterwaitforit.blogspot.com/. Amy lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., with her husband and two sons.

We’re honored to have Amy and Frames on Team 826michigan, and wish Amy the best of luck in her continued fundraising and writing efforts! To donate to Amy’s project, please visit her fundraising page. Learn more about Team 826michigan or sign up to participate right here! (And, while you’re at it, follow along with the official TGWO page on Facebook.)

Writing begins on October 3 and lasts till October 5. Get ready to send us all your best writing vibes! And go go Team 826michigan!

(We’ll be celebrating the close of The Great Write-Off in two ways. On Friday evening, we’re hosting Sweater Weather: An Autumn Orchard Picnic with Dave Eggers. With wine from The Produce Station, food by Chef Brad Greenhill of Righteous Rojo, and decor from pot&box, it’s sure to be a blast. Get your tickets here! Then, the next Saturday morning, we’re revealing OMNIBUS 4 at State of The Book, a free day-long symposium of Michigan writers and writing at Rackham Auditorium. We hope you can join us for one or both of these lovely events!)

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Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3463