A stroll down Charles Street in Beacon Hill feels like a step back in time – the 19th century, in fact. Stop at 77 Charles St. and you’ll find yourself at The Sevens Pub, a historic establishment that opened in 1933.
If it happens to be a Tuesday night at 7, you’ll often see a group of writers huddled in the left window of the pub, discussing everything from Walt Whitman to the origin of the universe.
They are WritersAnonymous.
Three years ago, the group began as strangers who had answered an ad seeking members for a writers’ group. Today, they are 15 freshly minted authors who have just collectively self-published "Seven At The Sevens," a collection of seven-word stories, memoirs and poems. None of the writers is originally from Boston, but all have made a home at The Sevens.
Customer service was fourth on their list.–Temple Goodwin
So goes one of the seven-word stories. Inspired by Sevens’ staff member, John Everett Martin, it belies the friendly atmosphere of The Sevens. In fact, customer service is one of the reasons WritersAnonymous has continued to frequent the Beacon Hill establishment.
For the writers, it is the little things that make them feel comfortable and welcome. Thanks to their usual waitress, Julianne, and barman, Bob Considine, there are often drinks on the table before they sit down, sandwiches that come without pickles or onions, and a friendly hello from the bar.
Tuesday nights at seven at The Sevens. – Grant Trenton Gardner
The Sevens isn't selective about who becomes a regular: “If you’re quiet, kind and nice, you’re going to fit in,” said Martin. For him, WritersAnonymous fit the bill.
“They are a sweet, quiet group," he said. "When they first came in, they seemed like more of a coffee shop crew. They grew on us."
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” – Ernest Hemingway
Grant Trenton Gardner, founder of WritersAnonymous, credits Ernest Hemingway’s famous six-worder -- and his belief that every work should begin with one true sentence -- with the seven-word twist of the writers' group. That one-line format seemed a manageable project for a diverse group with time and writing constraints, and it reflected the role of The Sevens in the developing book.
Considine, who has worked at The Sevens for 17 years, said he enjoyed hosting WritersAnonymous, but didn’t realize the impact of the pub and its staff on the group's project until he read the book. “I was blown away by their perception of us. I ran into [Gardner] on the street and told him how much it meant to me…It made me really proud to work here,” said Considine.
Boston State of Mind: bricks, history, connections. – Charles Chestnut
The group of writers was looking for a place that had more than just good customer service and a friendly staff. They credit the pub with inspiring them to be creative.
“There’s something special about The Sevens; it’s hard to deny it. Call it whatever you like, but it’s unmistakable,” Gardner wrote in the introduction to Seven At The Sevens. “It’s our ‘poetics of space' … an environment where you can be yourself. It’s not too loud, and it’s not too quiet. And that allows us to have really free conversation,” he said.
Gardner touts the diversity of the writing group: among the members are scientists, bloggers, flutists, tour guides and artists.
“Beacon Hill has been a beacon for so many different voices in American history," he said. "Whether it's Fredrick Douglass or Sojourner Truth or Robert Frost, I think that’s kind of cool. It’s very diverse…and what I love about our group is that we’re very diverse, as well. Black, white, yellow -- we’re just a little bit of everything, and I think that’s what makes us interesting."
He noted that one member of the group has Asperger’s syndrome, saying, "She’s been a wonderful addition to the group because she sees things from a very different place. It’s refreshing and teaches us a lot of things.”
Group members, who use their pen names, are quick to point out each other’s strengths and praise the others' stories. Several of the writers credit Gardner with fostering a community of honesty and support.
“The bond is inspirational. I felt accountability each week when Tuesday at The Sevens came around to have something to show the rest of the group,” said Temple Goodwin.
Almost 200 copies of the book have been sold so far, and the group hopes to
eventually expand sales to the west coast and bigger cities, such as New York and Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the 15 writers plan to continue to meet on Tuesdays and are talking about their next project, a possible sequel consisting of short stories.
Gardner summed up the relationship between the group and its meeting place in the book's introduction:
“Today the members of WritersAnonymous are my confidants… my writerly fraternity. And, Tuesday nights at seven at The Sevens feels like coming home.”
This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel (firstname.lastname@example.org), as part of collaboration between the Globe and Northeastern.