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The concept of Spilt Ink
arose in the minds of two of its founding members, whose initial effort to
make it a reality proved abortive. Subsequently an organizational meeting
was held at the invitation of Diana Roberts and Geoffrey Skinner on April
6, 1995. Five people attended, and the writers’ group was launched. We met
fairly regularly for more than four years, with a few layovers occasioned
by schedule conflicts or vacationing members. In its first incarnation,
Spilt Ink operated by consensus, under informal
guidelines agreed to at the first meeting. Aside from these, there were no
formal rules, bylaws, or authority structure. Initially, our primary focus
was on criticism of member writings composed between meetings, with
occasional in-group writing exercises.
Of necessity, our activities gradually
acquired more structure. The need to keep track of what pieces had been
distributed and which had or had not been reviewed led to the keeping of
minutes. A group handbook including addresses and bibliographies of member
writings followed in the fall of the first year. Out of no need at all, the
earliest version of our
was established shortly afterwards. Having a presence on the Internet did,
however, highlight the unresolved issue of a name for the group.
Due to our informal organization
we had had some difficulty deciding what to call ourselves. Initially
we simply referred to ourselves as “the writers’ group.” An early
address list circulated by Geoffrey floated the term “The Group of
Five.” Brian Kunde proposed “Spilled Ink” after the meeting of November
13, 1995, which was provisionally adopted at the meeting of November
27, 1995. When Geoffrey later found that “Spilled Ink” was already the
title of two unrelated literary publications, we decided a change was in
order. Spilt Ink, a variant previously
suggested by Anita Aleyassin, was adopted at our January 9, 1996
meeting. This name too has since been used by others, but as we came first
this time we saw no need for further amendment. (For other Spilt
and Spilled Inks, see our
Our numbers remained stable at five for
nearly a year. Then, in the spring of 1996, two members departed in quick
succession. One left permanently; the other would later return for a time.
A drive for new members that summer netted one new recruit, soon offset
by the departure of a third original member. An additional two new members
came on board in the winter and spring of 1997. Over time our active
membership has varied from three to six, the former having proven the
minimum needed to sustain the group.
During 1997 the idea was floated to
compile an anthology of group writings. The project took quite a while to
get off the ground, with some participants more enthusiastic than others,
and most were slow to submit finished pieces. First envisioned as an annual
The Spilt Ink Sampler
eventually took shape as an Internet publication in the fall of that year.
At present the works of four members are represented in it.
Our guidelines were revised during
the winter of 1997-98 to better reflect the way we operated at that
time and to address various concerns. Thereafter, our meetings were
more evenly divided between critiquing and in-group writing through
September 1998, when member attrition resulted in a three-month
suspension of operations. Down once more to an active membership of
three, we resumed activities in January 1999, continuing until the end
of July, when additional attrition forced another suspension of
operations, this time for over a year.
On September 7, 2000, following some
weeks of consultation between members, Spilt
Ink was reconstituted as an email critiquing group, with
new guidelines appropriate to that role. In our new incarnation, we at
first focused exclusively on criticism, though we resumed occasional
writing exercises later in the fall, once we had determined how best to
conduct them by email. Since the group no longer truly “met,” the
meeting minutes were discontinued and replaced as a record of the
group’s activities by a series of proceedings.
The subsequent evolution of the
group has been in the direction of greater flexibility, as interests
diversified and procedures loosened. Writing exercises are again a
thing of the past, as are the proceedings. Current operations are
occasional, completely informal and almost exclusively by email.
Membership continues to be by invitation of the current active members.
The group’s records (such as they are) and web pages are maintained by
This page is occasionally updated. Check regularly for changes and additions.
© 1995-2009 by Spilt Ink.
This page was established Jul. 22, 1998,
and last updated
May 19, 2009.