Writing is an amazing and complex thing. Sure, it’s easy to put a pen to the page or to mindlessly type some stream of consciousness…but good writing requires time, revision, and, above all, a supportive community of writers.
But aren’t writers those quiet hermits that churn out epic novels? What do they need a community for? Well, for one, feedback to help with revision. I have found, since I finally put stock into my writing abilities and re-cultivated my writing life (thank you Paper Kite Press and Book Store and Wilkes University’s Creative Writing MFA program), that a community of writers is essential.
You have to be gracious enough to accept critiquing, discerning enough to apply it, and grateful for the people who support you. Maybe it’s the holidays, but lately I’ve felt more of an overwhelming gratitude for my writing community. When I lived in Blacksburg, and went to school at Radford University, I began distancing myself from my true path. It wasn’t that the artists and writers around me were exclusive or pretentious (that I know of) but I had them so high up on the shelf I didn’t realize that I belonged right up there with them.
My life underwent a transformation when I moved to Northeastern PA. I will tell you honestly that I didn’t enjoy it here. It’s more expensive, fall is shorter and not as magnificent as the Blue Ridge fireworks of autumn, and the roads? Well…if you’ve ever driven here, you know what I’m talking about.
But this journey led me to one of the richest writing communities I believe that exists anywhere (sorry, I know I’m biased!) From them, I have learned that I can not only read in public, but do it WELL. I’ve been blessed to be invited to read as a featured reader at some events. I’ve started to believe in my abilities as a poet again, too. These writer-friends of mine have given me invaluable feedback. But they’ve given me something more. They’ve shared my journey from darkness into light. They’ve helped me feel alive in my own skin again. They’ve given me the confidence to share my story.
If you do not have a writing community, start a writers’ group. Your public library will more than likely be supportive. Poetry? Well, join a poetry workshop group in your area or start your own. This last fall, I hosted a series that has changed people. It changed me, for sure. It breathed life into my choice to teach again (sometime.) I learned from my poet friends and I inspired others through my love of, and faith in, poetry.
That being said, if you’re in the Wilkes-Barre area on 1/17/12, come to my poetry workshop. (See Facebook, Osterhout Free Library for more details.)
What else can I say? Thank you. Thank you to my Wilkes family. Thank you to my friends and family and the library. I’m blessed to be counted among you as a professional writer, friend, and teacher.
Be well and write on,