“I’m turning 80 in a couple of weeks,” she says. “And I’ll probably be writing until my last breath.”
The retired substitute teacher, who lives between Iowa City and Solon, has found an outlet for her prose for several decades through the University Club Writers’ Group.
The group, made up primarily of women in the Iowa City area, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month with the release of its third book, “Fact, Fiction and Little White Lies.”
The anthology, featuring fiction and essays on a range of topics by 33 area authors, is being published by Eagle Book Bindery Publishing Co. of Cedar Rapids. It will be released Tuesday and will be available at Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City for $25. All profits will go to the University Club scholarship fund.
The 275 page book includes chapters on travels, family, work and play — including one about the dubious joys of dishwashing — and writing, among other topics.
“We’re always trying to get the readers interested in writing,” Gilbaugh says.
The book is dedicated to the group’s founding member, Lois Muehl, who died in 2013, and includes some of her poetry.
Gilbaugh, a former chairman of the group, said the name, “Fact, Fiction and Little White Lies,” just popped into her head. Little white lies definitely factor into some of the stories, she said.
“The truth is always important, but not always interesting,” she says. “You crank up the drama or make things a little bit brighter, to make it interesting to read.”
The group, which meets twice a month, welcomes anyone interested in writing, no matter level of skill or experience.
“We are ruthlessly kind. We critique each other’s work and try to help each other through,” Gilbaugh says. “We are always kind and gentle, but we’ll tell you if something isn’t working.”
Group member Rosalea Ragland, a retired teacher, said the group has provided a welcome creative outlet.
“I used to really love teaching this to my little third-graders,” she says. “Now I’m enjoying doing it for myself and family.”
The University Club is an organization founded in 1917, organized around interest groups such as the Writers’ Group. Find out more at www.uiowa.edu/~uwc/Comments: (319) 398-8434; firstname.lastname@example.org