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Veterans writing group in Riverside enjoys telling war stories

By in Press Enterprise on February 9, 2018

By Ryan Hagen

For more than half a century, they’ve been gathering writing material.

From Thomas Vaden’s career in the military until he was 71 to Phyllis Maynard’s time at a sheriff’s department where she was expected to wear skirts to Gudelia Vaden’s childhood in a neighborhood that was all-white except her family, this group of senior citizens is full of stories.

They just need help getting those stories onto paper — preferably in a way that’s interesting enough to have them published.

That help comes from CelenaDiana Bumpus, instructor of the Veterans Voice Fiction and Nonfiction Writing Workshop and a published author with a Department of Defense and social work background, and from collaboration with the rest of the group.

“It’s a very supportive, very cohesive environment,” said Bumpus, who started the weekly class to help fight the disproportionately high suicide rate among veterans. “It’s the camaraderie; it’s being able to talk to other people.”

  • Instructor CelenaDiana Bumpus talks to students in her writing workshop for veterans at the Janet Goeske Senior Center in Riverside on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG

  • Gudelia Vaden, 73, talks about her writing prompts during the free workshop for veterans at the Janet Goeske Senior Center in Riverside on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG

    Gudelia Vaden, 73, talks about her writing prompts during the free workshop for veterans at the Janet Goeske Senior Center in Riverside on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG

  • Will Clarke, 76, listens to classmates talk about a writing prompt during the free writing workshop workshop for veterans at the Janet Goeske Senior Center in Riverside on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG

    Will Clarke, 76, listens […]    

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