Becoming an Author: A Customer’s Literary Journey at CHPL

Written by Joe Armstrong, Content Specialist, Marketing, Main Downtown Library

When visiting the Reading Branch Library there’s no telling what discoveries you may find. Some customers are exploring new stories in the latest books and magazines, others are attending events such as a children’s crafting workshop, and some customers, like Greg Stallworth, are writing books of their own.

A Home Away from Home

As a longtime customer at the Reading Branch Library, Greg is a familiar face to the library staff. “I live in the Roselawn area. Coming here to the Reading Branch Library became personal. I’ve watched its growth over the years,” Greg says, “I remember the old Reading Branch, and when the Library decided to expand it to a much larger building, it’s become even better. I call this place my home away from home. My second home.”

Walking through the aisles, it’s clear Greg knows every nook and cranny of the building. The best places to focus, others that are perfect for collaborating. “The quiet areas, the rooms for the children, the diversity of spaces this branch provides gives an author like me the ability to focus and concentrate and meet the needs I have from a literary perspective,” Greg says.

Discovering The Joy of Writing at CHPL

Greg’s writing journey started where you might not expect: on the stage. “I started my career as a playwright,” Greg explains, “I’ve been writing plays for over 20 years. After doing so many stage productions, I was looking to the next level. I liked the idea of reaching a broader audience outside of the limited number of seats in a theater.”

And once Greg started to write, he found that he couldn’t stop. “I found fun in writing,” Greg says, “The thrill and joy in finishing chapters. To be able to tell your story. Especially compared to a play in which you only have a limited amount of time to tell the story, but in a book, you can tell the story however you want.”

But as all writers know, literary journeys aren‘t always easy. “Here at the Reading branch, I was in the middle of writing one of my books, and all of a sudden the computer started to malfunction,” Greg says, “I was worried about losing all of my work! One of the fantastic staff at the Library immediately came over to assist me. I was emotional, thinking I was going to lose over 3,500 words.”

“She was calm like a good surgeon, calming me down as she worked on the computer. I was panicking! She was able to save that document which became Behind My Storm, opens a new window which was published. I always tell her she got me out of the ‘Literary ICU.’”

The Library: A Haven for the Community

The Library provided a space and the resources Greg required to become a published author, opens a new window. “Almost everything I've written was done at the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library,” Greg says, “I get emotional when I talk about it because I don’t know if I could have done these books without not only the facilities and resources the Library has but also the staff.”

"They’re caring. They won’t do the work for you, but they will help you. For example, I was writing in the branch one day and overheard a customer saying she was interviewing for a job but they required a typed resume. This was an older woman who had never written one before. The staff showed her how to do it – didn’t do it for her – but showed her how. She walked out of the library with a resume, got the job, came back to the library, and thanked all of the staff.”

“I just want to thank the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library for the support they’ve given to our community and Hamilton County.”

Borrow Greg’s book, Behind My Storm, opens a new window, with your CHPL library card.

Get inspired to write your own book at one of the CHPL’s 41 locations, opens a new window. Already have an idea in mind? Reserve a meeting or study room, opens a new window for a quiet space to get started on your literary journey!