CROWN HEIGHTS — Like so many great journeys in life, Andrew Cothren's first foray into fiction began in a failed attempt to impress a girl. He fell in love with writing instead.
"I signed up for a creative writing class in college to impress a girl, and then it kind of all came together," he said.
Cothren is part of the Brooklyn writers' collective Crown Writes, which launched the first edition of its very own literary review Crown Journal this month, and has begun accepting submissions for future issues. For the authors and the institutions that support them, it's another sign announcing Crown Heights' arrival on the borough's artistic scene.
"I would really consider this area an enormous and growing writers' community," said Fraylie Nord, 23, whose story "Painting with Racoon" appears in Crown Journal's inagural issue.
The wordsmiths met through Victoria Cho, who started the group in Crown Heights 2008 as a way to save money on the writing workshops she'd been splurging on.
"I was really really broke, and I decided instead of dropping $400, let’s just see who’s around here," Cho said. "I posted on different neighborhood blogs, and through Mike at LaunchPad, and basically started hearing back from people who'd moved to the neighborhood and were eager to meet with other writers."
The idea for a journal came a few months later, after the group had jelled but before most of them had found a toehold in the wider literary establishment.
"This seems more and more common," said member Sarah Gentile. "People see a frustration with an access to the things they want to do within the arts, and they go and make the outlet for themselves."
The journal got a boost from the neighborhood's burgeoning literary scene. The crew counts Franklin Park Reading Series' runner Penina Roth among their staunchest supporters, and credits LaunchPad and the bar 739 Franklin for nurturing them along.
"Penina’s done such a fabulous job of drawing writers, editors, people in the industry with her phenomenal reading series," Cho said. "She’s been incredibly supportive of local writers."
From end to end, the journal has been a local production. The stories were written and perfected in Crown Heights, the covers printed in Williamsburg, the guts sourced in Carrol Gardens, and the pages sewn in apartments across the borough. The first issues were sold at Franklin Park, where Cothren was invited to read alongside established authors earlier this month. The official launch party will be in the back of 739 Franklin on July 13 at 7 p.m.
"I think the thing about Crown Heights is that someone who cares about not just paying the bills — people become very loyal to those spots," Gentile said. "If you support artists, artists support you."