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And so, she just started typing. As if she was trying to dig herself out of some hole that was filled with words, perhaps that she never said but had always wished she could. She typed and dug and typed and dug as if letter by letter, word by word she would finally uncover who she was—why she was . . . 

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Stepping Away for Sabbatical

posted Aug 14, 2020, 7:33 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Oct 29, 2020, 6:18 AM ]

Summahtime---it's a good time to contemplate the direction I’m going in. 

This past spring offered an unexpected twist for us all. In the interest of holding onto any of my remaining sanity I must trim the sails by trimming some responsibilities. My four young children are non-negotiable keepers!:) 

Life in the summer months has been easier for me, but I cannot forget how very overwhelmed I was in March, April—and May. Responsibilities piled up fast while four sets of wide eyes looked to me for explanations, normalcy, occassional laughs, school instruction, motherly love, story time, screen time, entertainment, patience, three square meals, many snacks and some almost impossible undivided attention.

Everything real became virtual and the effort needed to fulfill commitments doubled while the time allowed to focus
and complete tasks fractured. I still have yet to replenish the well I drew so heavily from those three months.

As I look toward the uncertain fall season and the winter that follows, I have decided right now is a good time to take a sabbatical—let one of the fields I usually tend lie fallow. 

"A sabbatical is an extended break from your job that gives you time to enhance your academic qualifications, reflect on your accomplishments and decide how to prioritize your life and career or to take an extended rest period due to professional burnout."

Interested in reading about the value of a sabbatical? Here’s what Forbes has to say about sabbaticals: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellevate/2017/12/22/the-untold-value-of-a-professional-sabbatical/#3d0512587141

Stepping away from The Room to Write to lessen my load will not only help preserve my sanity, but will also allow me to use any available time to move forward with my own professional writing projects and allow me to develop more fully as an author. 

I hope to continue revising my YA novel, Lucy Bound in Lyrics, and finish the first draft manuscript for my MG novel-in-progress, Eleanor with the Weeping Eye. Maybe I’ll even revisit some drafts of poetry or neglected picture book manuscripts. It will all depend on schooling, health and an unpredictable virus.

Community is so very important to the creative process and to growing a career as an artist, which is why furthering The Room to Write's mission has been such a passion for its Board of Directors and for me. But, we cannot deny that so much of what is valuable about TRtW requires in-person events, networking and community building which is not currently possible and cannot be replicated authentically through virtual efforts alone.

The good news: We are not dissolving—only pausing—to catch our breath, conserve energy, and lay low while the world finds a way to get back up on its feet again. For those gardeners and farmers out there—we are letting the field lie fallow knowing it is an investment in future production. 

I hope the soil around The Room to Write grows richer as it rests. 

I’m choosing to view this sabbatical year as a good thing that’s been thrust upon me by the universe forcing me to slow down and look within for a while. This swerve in the course can be a gift, an opportunity to make time to write and prepare for the future if I choose to accept it as such. I choose to accept.

Having recently re-read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea reminded me that sometimes it’s best to be quiet and introspective. The path forward in life is never one straight, uninterupted line.

We must learn to shift with the ebb and flow.

The Gift of Empathy

posted Jun 23, 2020, 9:32 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Jun 23, 2020, 1:36 PM ]

Several years ago my oldest daughter broke her arm speeding down a slide. The word “surgery” was mentioned by doctors. It was the day before Easter and instead of a basket of candy, she went home with a cast. We were grateful she didn’t need surgery. 

We all hoped her arm would be free of the cast in time for her dance recital. Despite having the cast removed in time, she woke up sick the morning of the recital. I remember driving around the block an extra time to compose myself before telling the dance teacher she wouldn't be joining them. 

When we were both feeling down about it, I told my daughter (and myself) to be grateful because she was receiving the gift of empathy. "In the future," I explained, "when someone you know breaks a bone and is in pain or misses out on something they worked hard for, you can offer them genuine empathy." She spent the day throwing up along with her younger sister and I did a lot of laundry. 

Neither were interested in the "gift" they were receiving at the time, but later on I repeated what a gift it will be for someone to come to her sad and broken, to tell her a struggle they are going through, and for her to truthfully be able to say, “I have gone through something similar.”

Recently, I was driving down the highway when I saw a crowd of people on an overpass. Traffic slowed. I saw “Black Lives Matter” signs among the silhouettes of people gathered to demonstrate for equality. Tears began to well up in my eyes and it caught me by surprise. Why was I getting emotional? I wasn’t sad. The feelings swept over me—and, who am I to hold back tears that are peacefully demonstrating. 

I realized they were tears of pride. For the first time in so many years I was proud of my country—of the people in my country. They were gathered up there on that overpass together trying to insist we all realize that each of us is a human being underneath our skin. The humanity of us all is a beautiful commonality to be forced to recall.

I think of Covid-19 and how it has made so many of us afraid to leave our homes, to shop for food, to go out in public, to hug. The virus has caused so many people to fear for their loved ones—especially those with underlying conditions. That’s when I realized the gift we are all being given, if we choose to accept it and keep it in mind going forward: the gift of empathy. 

This gift may be a memory before too long, but perhaps we people—especially we white people—can accept the fear and the uncertainty of an invisible virus like Coronavirus, as a lens through which we are better able to witness the fear and uncertainty racism causes every day for so many in our country and around the world. Could this devastating virus be the closest we ever come to gathering what's needed to gain empathy for people of color while remaining in the skin we were born into? 

How amazing is it that one of the most pivotal movements toward racial justice and against systemic racism is taking place at the exact moment in time when the world is simultaneously being offered an epic-sized gift of empathy. Will we allow ourselves to receive the insight we are being offered? 

This virus, which has brought people of every class and color to their knees, may be the only hope we have of even remotely experiencing the fear our black brothers and sisters feel each time they step beyond the thresholds of their homes their entire lives without the hope or relief of a vaccine. It is a window into the fear a mother has for her son as he grows to be a young man, knowing that the color of his skin is a dangerous, underlying condition that leaves him vulnerable to the destructive disease that is racism.

When times are difficult—when inconvenience, illness, pain or death cause us to feel sorry for ourselves—let us instead by grateful. Be grateful for the gift of empathy because it is only through our struggles that we can begin to genuinely empathize with those among us who suffer.



Alone or Among?

posted Apr 2, 2020, 2:04 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Apr 8, 2020, 1:07 PM ]

It seems that the default for life right now in the age of the virus that shall not be named toggles between: ALONE and AMONG. You are either quite alone, meaning you live alone and now you cannot even go and meet up with others or happen upon others as all others stay home, or you are among said “others” who are your family and with whom you are now in constant contact with and perhaps even homeschooling (aka: home-zooming).

A writerly friend of mine, Dom Capossela, publishes a daily blog—yes daily! He is dedicated to celebrating words and sharing thoughts on a daily basis and that third week of March, when things started getting “real” and humanity started to disappear from public view, Dom wrote something beautiful in his blog. He wrote of the change of landscape and how that changed his life’s pattern as well as a homeless woman’s disappearance from that pattern.

His poem prompted me to write a poem, too. I wanted to dance alongside his poem and create a mirror image of every move he was making. He had toggled “alone” while I was toggling “among.” It is not often a writer can dance with another writer through words, but his daily blog allows it. I will include below his poem of "alone" followed by mine of a life "among." As time goes on it is likely these two viewpoints will take on various tones and nuance, but I feel they both serve as a snapshot in time that reflects what has become a very fluid situation and a landscape that we may never again return to. And so, with that introduction—let’s dance!

----------

2.0   Commentary by Dom Capossela [ALONE]

Yan walks past me,

Looking asleep on her moving feet.

Ten minutes later walks past me again.

 

An older woman,

Whose lower jaw and teeth dramatically forward of her upper,

With legs misshapen and repulsively sored,

Of very few words, they guttural and barely intelligible,

Who has worn the same burlap-looking outfit that matches the burlap bag hanging round her neck,  

Which bag one feels contains her life’s possessions,

since I’ve become aware of her.

 

Yan,

Obviously homeless,

Uncared for,

Shunned because

Uncared for,

Adrift in the Prudential Mall, passes me once,

In ten minutes, a second time.

 

It’s Monday and the Blue Bottle café is closed for the first time

Since its opening on July 11, 2018,

Since the time I made it my workplace, seven days a week.

 

Sometime between then and now,

Closer to then,

Yan approached the cashier.

She drew attention: few homeless-types wander such a space: being as it is,

Dedicated to the pleasures of the well-to-do.

She ordered a drink and a yogurt cup.

She paid and she left a tip.

 

She waited for her order and carried it to the Blue Bottle communal table,

Shyly taking the chair most isolated from the other patrons

Who did little to mask their distaste.

 

She slowly ate and drank.

Did not dribble.

Did not slurp or spill.

She wiped her lips

And remained sitting.

Just sitting quietly.

Her head drooping.

Nodding.

Dozing.

Jerking awake.

To the disgust of the others.

 

Blue Bottle management was contacted.

Little they could do:

She a paying customer.

“Hello,” they could say, and

Did.


To wake her.

To tell her,

“You cannot sleep here.”

She smiled that distorted smile,

Although not without its charm –

The innocence of a child,

Willing to please,

Wanting to please,

Wishing to please. But

Needing to sleep.

 

Security was called.

But she not disturbing the peace.

A paying customer.

Warnings issued.

 

Eventually Yan got to know the names of a couple of us other daily customers and

Told us her name in return.

She smiling.

Happy to be acknowledged.

 

Eventually Yan got up the courage to move a chair to a space convenient to her:

A bit distant from the communal table.

A place where she was close enough to claim ownership of the two purchased cups but

Far enough away from the communal table so as not to

Discourage others from sitting.

 

And so matters rested for several months:

Yan asleep in a  chair warmed by the sun,

Not bothering anyone,

Her body healing itself, perhaps,

With a most-needed sleep,

Management, security, and random patrons accepting her presence.

Bliss.

 

For the down-trodden, too good never lasts.

Today the Blue Bottle Café in the Prudential Center closed for several weeks to come.


And Yan walks past me.


Squatters’ right taken from her.

No replacement chair in the entire mall:

All restaurants closing.

The mall’s own common seating off-limits:

Any homeless caught sitting, evicted.

Yan.

Adrift.

Passes, not noticing my wave.

Asleep, perhaps.

On moving feet.

Disappears down one of the mall’s walkways.

After twenty minutes, walks past again.

Still asleep.

On moving feet.

 

**Here is my response to Dom’s beautifully written portrait.**

 

New Normal, for Now by Colleen Getty [AMONG]

 

How to relate—

without comparing.

How to complain—without complaint.

Gratitude. A noble focus. A necessity.

“The good ole days” seemed something none of us ever lived,

but now, those “days” just last week, just two days gone—five hours prior.

Closed. Shut. Cerrado.

Alone we—

echo.

Early motherhood, romantic as a memory

now thrust back upon me. 24/7—but,

no playgroups, no museums, no libraries, no grandparent visits, no, no, no—no nada.

No time and yet lots.

Water, water everywhere—you know the rest.

Gratitude. A noble idea. A legend, perhaps.

Homeless, lifeless, desperate—

a useful comparison.

Yan, a gift held now. A reminder.

Can I complain?

I shouldn’t—but it’s human. We still human, even if only virtually so.

Virtuous? A goal.

Virtual. A reality. Visits sans hugs, sans human.

Gratitude. Keep it close. Focus and refocus on it.

A home. A family.

Not completely isolated and yet—

a few hours

alone

sounds

delicious.

So, you think you want to homeschool?

posted Mar 24, 2020, 3:50 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Mar 26, 2020, 8:39 AM ]

Boy—I miss alone time. 

If I ever wondered if homeschooling my four children was for me. Now I know—it’s not. I look forward to the day when this all becomes a blip on the map of our memories and we laugh and (mis)remember fondly how it felt to suddenly have virtual-everything virtually dumped upon us. Memory magic is a wonderful thing.

Until then?

Here we are trying to keep up with the juxtaposition of facing off with tweens while our 6-year-old facetimes with a teacher. We parents shouldn’t complain. There are so many people stuck in their apartments alone. But, as is the human way—we both look longingly at the other’s basecamp.


Yesterday went by in a flash. Time flies when your attention is stretched across four kids and their corresponding grades simultaneously in a homeschool curriculum that is both out of your hands and very much in your hands all at the same time. We’re zooming and googling and even learning home economics. We made pasta today (meaning the dough from scratch not just pouring a box-o-pasta into hot water). It was amazingly simple and each kid—K through 6th—was over the moon to have their own dough with which to work.

I figured: The worst that can happen is we make inedible playdough. The best that can happen is we make pasta dough I can use for dinner later on. Luckily, it seems, we made the latter—though having never made pasta before I had no standards by which to measure and, quite frankly, didn’t care what it tasted like as we squeezed the Home Economics lesson in between a Zoom classroom and a Facetime piano lesson.

Wow—this stay at home thing is a lot less relaxing than it sounded when first floated.

So, what are we learning besides how to make edible playdough? That, apparently none of us wash our hands, let alone with any quality. That we love teachers! That walking isn’t so bad after all and fresh air is taken sorely for granted. Virtual isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that perhaps as a nation we should rethink our constant efforts to convert everything from human to virtual. Humans are fun, even when just virtually present! Germs aren’t as scary when faith has a stronghold in your life. Authors and creative individuals are incredibly generous with their gifts and should be supported more when we get out of this mess. We’re learning that toilet paper enjoys surprisingly high esteem among Americans. Lastly, community is king. No man (or woman) is an island. I was never so happy to see my local bank tellers, postal workers, grocery store clerks and neighbors in the last social-distancing and self-isolation laden weeks!

I think that’s it for now. Until we meet (in person) again. Good luck, wash those hands and keep writing!

*Do you need some ideas on the fly? Check out our new Homeschool page for links.

Bookmaking at Brightview

posted Feb 27, 2020, 6:58 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Feb 27, 2020, 7:05 AM ]

Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone and try something new--try something we don't think we will like or that we don't think we will do well. We may just surprise ourselves . . . and like it, or—do well.

On February 15th, singer/songwriter and artist Lisa Bastoni guided participants through a bookmaking workshop at
Brightview Senior Living. Those in attendance (including a few grandchildren who partnered with their grandparents) thought the thoughts that helped weave the words that influenced the images in their minds and onto the paper that created a story that made up the pages of a book. They created the actual book, too. 

It was a lot to expect in two hours, and while some seemed unsure at the beginning, each participant slowly let go of writing as they knew it and embraced a different approach. They all walked away with a beautifully and entirely handmade book that contained a slice of his or her life within it.

It can be difficult to create. It can be easy to resist a challenge. Difficult doesn't always have to mean bad and easy doesn't usually yield a feeling of fulfillment. It's the dance of life: tension and elation, struggle vs success, strength from challenge or atrophy from unused. Something about we humans insists we must go on. 

It was certainly inspiring to watch the process of the workshop from perplexing start to enlightening finish.

The Room to Write is grateful to the Wakefield Rotary Club, Lisa Bastoni, Brightview Senior Living and the 20+ participants who came out to create and share their stories with us!

          
  












Write Beyond the Margins

posted Feb 6, 2020, 10:35 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Feb 6, 2020, 10:36 AM ]


Waking Up

posted Dec 31, 2019, 6:32 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Dec 31, 2019, 6:33 AM ]

Once upon a time there was a meet and greet open to all the writers and illustrators of the land. But then, there was a flash of thunder snow (yes, that’s a thing) and thick blankets of sleet fell, coating all the fields and valleys with ice and yucky slushy stuff. So—what became of that meet and greet? It is said that seven individuals seeking community, inspiration and motivation for the new year blew in the door one by one and very wet, the last to arrive exclaiming, “So, are these the diehards?” And, of course, I pictured Bruce Willis walking on glass and hoped I could do something similarly badass if it came down to it. 

It was disappointing to think that the meet and greet so many of us look forward to and some would be attending for the first time was thwarted by the off-again, on-again Super Hero/ Super Villain: Mother Nature, but the dramatic and poetic writer side of me thought, Yeah, that makes total sense—especially since the theme of the night was to discuss how to eek out time in our lives for what we are passionate about: writing, art, music or whatever drives us creatively. Of course, it was a real-life metaphor playing out before our eyes. 

Make time for your writing. Make time to make art. Cue the excuses and the list of things that come before that. Cue the thunder snow (really, THUNDER SNOW!) trying to keep us from meeting and talking shop. Perhaps, this meeting was seen by the other things in our lives as a revolution (more than the resolution it was cloaked in) and they threw all they had at the effort: sleet, snow, rain and—yes, I’m going to mention it again—thunder snow. Perhaps that was my walking on glass moment, minus the bloody sweat, the ripped tank top and the “Yippeekayay Mother [Nature].”

What’s the biggest message I got from last night’s chat: Wake Up. It’s like Show Up or Put Up or Keep Up or Shape Up or Giddy Up. That’s the funny thing about what we usually need to do. It’s usually something super simple, followed by the tiny word, “Up.” Don’t get me wrong—there were lots of specific books mentioned to read, detailed advice and extremely helpful connections made, but above all else the two words that seemed to trail me out the door, through the slush and home were the words: wake up. 

You have to understand that I am not one who enjoys waking up, early or otherwise. There are few things more luxurious to me than lingering in bed even if I’m awake, even if my bladder is full, even if there’s bacon cooking downstairs. Staying in bed is a luxury I definitely didn’t have for a long stretch as my children were babies and so whenever I can get an extra wink, I do.

My full-time job is mother-of-four: MOF. It’s kind of like a CEO without the suit or the salary. As soon as my feet hit the floor, I’ve clocked in. I’m on. So, I keep my feet under covers as long as possible, which isn’t impressively long but the point is I loathe waking up earlier than necessary because it doesn’t seem to matter how early I wake up. They find me—the little ones. Those adorable earthlings with the big eyes but horrible morning breath somehow hear me and stagger toward me in a half-sleep stupor needing something. Sometimes it’s breakfast, but often they just want to sit beside me or snuggle and who can resist that!? I discovered this morning that while I want to wake up early to focus on my writing—my youngest daughter somehow sensed I was awake and, I’m convinced, she woke up early to try to get some unobstructed Mommy time, alone and without the other three siblings to distract me. 

So, you’re wondering (no, you don’t give a rat’s arse, but in my imagination you’re totally engrossed in what I’m saying and focused on my every word—and therefore wondering) what became of this pilgrim trudging through thunder snow and slushy stuff to glean some inspiration from a gathering of creative villagers? Did she risk life and limb for nothing? Was it worth it?

I’ll tell you: I woke up. It’s school vacation and my husband is on vacation and there’s no reason to wake up early, but today without setting an alarm I looked at the clock at 6:55 am and instead of just closing my eyes and going back to the cocoon of my pillow I set my feet on the ground and stood up. 

Then I wondered: What do people who wake up early to do their writing do, exactly? Do they go directly to their writing and take down the smatterings still rolling off that treasure trove that is our subconscious or do they brush their teeth and make their beds first? Those are two things I have to do to wake up feeling: up. But, while I was carefully folding the blanket down on my bed (of course, my husband is way more disciplined than me and was already up and out of bed) I heard a door open and a pair of bare feet patter into the bathroom. “Oh crap!” I thought almost out loud. My bedroom door had been wide open and so I was clearly awake for all to see. I quietly closed the door so perhaps whoever it was would think I went back to bed or just forget they saw me if, indeed, they did. I left it with a thin slit instead of closing it completely and making any noise.

I waited. It was like an 80s horror movie where the girl waits in the room hoping the guy with the mask doesn’t see her and then there’s the shadow on the wall getting larger and therefore closer until there’s no denying someone is there—someone is looking. I opened the door but instead of a masked man there was an adorable little girl with freckles and big blue eyes, in a purple nightgown whose eyes flew open, hand flew to mouth as she quietly claimed while mock relieved-laughing, “You scared me! I was trying to see the clock and you scared me.” It was all very hushed and sweet in those morning hours. She was careful to not want to wake anybody by yelling or being scared in any truly disruptive way. I knew then that I would not be writing right away. So we hugged and we sat.

I sat on the edge of my bed and she hopped up and did the same. I sat quietly enjoying her hushed retelling of the tales of our new kitten from the night before while I was at the meet and greet. It consisted of the kitten being held and then let down and then held again and then finding her way to the third step on our basement stairs that are carpeted. Apparently there’s something about that third step that the kitten gravitates to. 

As I sat there listening, I thought about making writing a priority in my life, but I couldn’t deny that the simple conversation I was having about a kitten with my daughter was any less important—to her. She was, perhaps like me, waking up early to sit quietly beside me and know that I was fully listening to her without interruption or correction from any siblings as to the chain of kitten events. I can only imagine it felt as good for her to connect with me unencumbered as it does for me to write and write and write as I’m doing right now.

I finally realized she may never tire of talking to me on the side of my neatly made bed and so I stood up and started walking downstairs. I didn’t want to tell her to go back to bed because that felt dismissive, not to mention, I’d be encouraging the very habit I was trying to overcome. I didn’t want to declare that I had woken up early to have quiet time to myself in which to write because that would be rude and it would make it sound like I didn’t enjoy her company and her quiet words recounting the events of a kitten because—quite honestly—I enjoyed sitting quietly and just listening without the pig-piling of competing words that often happens among the kids when someone is telling a story that they were all present to witness through their own personal point of view. 

So, at what seemed like a lull, I just stood up and slowly walked downstairs. She did the same and when we got downstairs her attention shifted to the kitten and my husband talked about where the kitten might be and then I was distracted by a Where’s Waldo type of search—also a child, myself, and wanting to be the first one to find that kitten. Then I remembered what I had woken up to do and it didn’t involve looking for a kitten. So, I chatted a bit with my husband and put the kettle on for tea wondering if the others who woke up early to write made their tea or coffee first or if they just went as bleary-eyed as possible directly to their writing. In that time the kitten was found and I went to go peek at her staring out from beneath a shoe bin and then back up to finish preparing my tea. 

I took it upstairs with, now, two kids awake and two still in bed. I went into the office and closed the door until it clicked completely closed. Perhaps that was me clocking in? It certainly sounded like the machine in the “old days” where you slid your timecard in and it literally punched the time.

And, what do you know?! It worked. Despite all the unintended distractions I was able to stay focused on what needed to happen—if not immediately, at least eventually—and one hour later I’ve written way more than I should actually publish in a blog entry, allowing for self-satisfying frivolity and constant digressions, the likes of which I usually weed nearly completely out after I’ve proofread a piece a time or two. But, this time I am just going to “ship” this as is. I am going to let it all hang out and instead of luxuriating in the extra hour in bed, I am allowing myself to luxuriate in an hour of writing without a smidge of tightening to make it more digestible.

And wouldn’t you know—the new kitten even taught me something. Perhaps it’s not always the first step that is where you want to end up. The first step is where you start, but maybe it’s the third step that is where you want to be sure you end up.

So, wake up. That was what I found out I needed to do. 
It’s not easy, but it’s that simple. 
Wake up—the first step.
[Insert real life stuff, but don’t lose complete focus]—the second.
Write—the third.

Here’s to waking up in the New Year.
Happy 2020!





Gratitude Goggles

posted Nov 30, 2019, 6:25 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Nov 30, 2019, 6:27 PM ]

http://www.theroomtowrite.org/
Gratitude. It’s a thing. It feels good—to instigate it, to be filled with it and to see things through the lens of it. If we could imagine slipping a pair of Gratitude Goggles on and taking a look around—things might be a lot more pleasant on a daily basis. We at The Room to Write would like you all to look through our Gratitude Goggles and see so many things we’re grateful for.

The day before Thanksgiving (speaking of gratitude:) members of the Board of Directors of The Room to Write walked into The Savings Bank to accept a check for $150 in celebration of the bank’s 150 year anniversary and given to local nonprofit organizations. We were so honored to be chosen and this donation from The Savings Bank arrives in time to help fund a memoir writing workshop, which is the focus of our next mention. 

A great big THANK YOU goes out to the Stoneham Cultural Council that recently granted local author and speaker 
Sandra Elaine Scott funding to sponsor her memoir writing workshop: “Everyone Has a Story” to be held at the Boys & Girls Club of Stoneham in June 2020. We are grateful for the support as we work to offer writing workshops in several communities that invite seniors, in particular, to share the stories, the lessons and the history they have witnessed from each of their unique perspectives. Along with Sandra’s efforts to inspire storytelling, we are grateful for two very busy writers who are committed to helping us bring writing workshops to seniors north of Boston: Sally Chetwynd and Abettina Dell’Orfano Morano.

Speaking of sharing stories—Linda Malcolm is a local author who is a member of The Room to Write and has been active in our monthly writers’ critique group for the past two years. Her writing has a quiet beauty that is both soothing and entertaining at once. We were so happy and proud to see her bring the baby she’d been working on for so long into the public eye through the publication of her newly released book—a collection of personal essays—Cornfields to Codfish. Thank you, Linda, for mentioning us on the back of your book and in your recent press release. To get a copy of her book click here. It captures the human spirit and includes some great recipes!

Last, but not least, because he is so humble that he’d prefer we didn’t mention him at all—we are appreciative of the support across the spectrum from local writer Brian McCoubrey. The Room to Write is so pleased that Brian accepted our invitation to join The Room to Write’s Board of Directors recently. He does not enjoy being in photos and so—in the absence of a photo—we will represent him with a simple rendition of Superman (also a writer:)! We are so pleased to have him as part of our Super Team (below) made up of: Roberta Hung, Treasurer; Jeanette Murray, Secretary; 
Colleen Getty, President; and Emily Seward, Vice President. 

Looking to the new year—we thank NESCBWI (New England Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) for sponsoring local author Kris Asselin for a  FREE ShopTalk writing workshop, “Writers Toolbox: Show and Tell, Reinventing Your Scene,” at Wakefield Beebe Memorial Library on January 21st. 

http://www.libraryinsight.com/eventdetails.asp?jx=wkp&lmx=%CFco%2D%A9%A9u&v=3

We remain eternally grateful to each of you who make up the writing community we depend on for feedback, inspiration and mutual support. We wish you an attitude of gratitude and all the positive vibes that come along with it!

It Ain't Easy Feelin' Queasy--but it's worth it!

posted Oct 31, 2019, 9:58 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Oct 31, 2019, 10:11 AM ]

When I wake up and my stomach hurts and I wonder what I ate the night before—I realize it almost always has nothing to do with indigestion. It’s nerves. That queasy feeling accompanies every author interview I facilitate for The Journey of a Story television and podcast series. I don’t know why I get so nervous every time. I mean, I’ve done 17 episodes now. Get over it already! But, I don’t. Why would I continue to do something that makes me anxious? 

Last week I interviewed two very different but equally intriguing authors for The Journey of a Story series. The quarterly interviews are done in collaboration with our amazing community partner, Wakefield Cable Access Television (WCAT) Studios. Both days I woke up not feeling well and wondering, “What’s going on? What did I eat last night?” Neither of those days did I prove to be sick in the traditional sense. I was just nervous, anxious—whatever you want to call it.
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Doing these interviews is not something that falls naturally into my comfort zone, but is anything worth doing ever entirely “comfortable?” Maybe you wonder why I still do them if I feel sick every time. I’ll tell you. Every time I sit down with a different author I learn something. I discover something about the world or myself or writing—or often all three. I connect in a way that is so much more authentic and human than I could over the course of a few emails, on the phone or even if I were to run into that same person at a social gathering among many others. The interview allows me to ask questions that I wouldn’t normally ask on a day-to-day basis. I take a deeper dive and it’s refreshing.

However, no matter how diverse the authors appear—whether an Afro-Latina writer who is an award-winning author, international speaker and published a range of books for adults and children including a bilingual book or a former restaurant owner and North End native who lives food, loves the written word and began a new chapter of his life by starting a daily blog and podcast in his seventies—at the core of their being is a pen fired up and filled with ink. I’m sure of it! In fact, I bet if we x-ray all seventeen authors I’ve interviewed there will be a pen floating around in there somewhere, emitting a signal to, "Write, write, write."

So, twice every three months I will wake up wondering what I ate or if the stomach bug has taken its hold until I realize I have an interview scheduled for later that day. These queasy, quarterly interviews are a steady reminder that I (and you!) need to get over ourselves—our fears, our bad past experiences, the inevitable bad future experiences, our awkward first impressions, our upset stomachs—and participate in life in ways that challenge us, teach us and open us up to the world beyond our noses. 

It’s not always something that comes naturally. It may take some courage on our part. But, just do it. You may surprise yourself and do it sixteen more times with no end in sight . . . 

 
 
 
 

     

Putting a Price Tag on Passion

posted Sep 23, 2019, 9:14 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Sep 24, 2019, 5:25 AM ]

What an amazing group of creative minds at The Room to Write’s Writers and Illustrators Meet & Greet at Wahlburgers! Every three months I look forward to knowing I will have the distinct privilege of being in the midst of an eclectic group of creative individuals. The only way I can ensure this happens is by organizing this event myself. So, what have I learned from organizing these types of events? I learned that no matter how tired I am, how little of my latest project I’ve written, how much laundry there is to do or how hard the opportunity to gather with other writers and creative minds is to fit into my schedule—I MUST DO IT!

I need to treat every opportunity to meet up with other writers, illustrators and creative minds like it’s an event I am organizing. I have to imagine I am the one bringing the coffee and sweets—even if I’m not. Perhaps I should volunteer to do so in order to hold myself accountable? I need to conger up the notion that I am the person responsible for greeting people as they arrive and charged with introducing them to others—helping them to feel at home among their people—even if I will do nothing of the sort. Maybe that’s something I could help out with, though? I’ll have to email the organizer and find out if he or she would like me there to serve that role. Why? Because I need to hold myself accountable.

I understand now—after hosting so many of these meet and greet events—how very important it is to force myself out of my comfort zone and get into someone’s physical line of sight, shake their hand and ask them what they write, how they write—why they write. I want to be in the orbit of an illustrator and talk directly to them and know what they enjoy or struggle with, not because I am an illustrator but because we are both artists trying to connect with an audience, trying to evoke a laugh or a tear or a nod of understanding.

I believe that art of any sort is the most vulnerable way that we humans hope to communicate and connect with one another. We want to be heard, be seen, be understood—be part of this human family. Art is another language through which we try to do all those things. It is an off-gassing that seems wholly necessary on a regular basis in order to settle into our environment—until our scent no longer seems out of place or toxic. I guess it’s a fancy way of asking those around us, “Do I stink or do you smell like this too?” Now I worry—does that make sense? Well, that is the worry that every author, every artist, every filmmaker shares. They want to know—in a very basic way—if they stink of if that’s how you smell too.

Creativity is the root of all solutions. People want ingenuity. Companies want problem solvers. Creativity is always present and, in fact—demanded—at the genesis of anything. Yet, where are the opportunities to create? Where is the money? When will we—as a society—value the creative individuals who I know have a passion that burns white hot—the people who will go without a paycheck just for the opportunity to create for and connect with another human being. How can we reconcile art and money? What price can we put on passion? I don’t know—I’m asking. But, I would love an answer—not just another algorhythm.


It continues to blow every writer north of Boston’s mind that The Room to Write does not already exist—fully funded—to serve this region. It’s hard to understand how a community that wants creative problem solving—that values art, education and thinking outside the box isn’t funneling it’s money toward writers and artists who may not yet have been vetted. It’s hard to explain an investment in any artist who is not well known or published or considered worth investing in yet.

We invest in the old, white, male, (mostly of the corpse variety, to put it frankly) artists. Show me the endowments for the female, youth, poor, nontraditional artists who do not have credits to their name or a degree or—in some cases—a paycheck or a home. Not a single writer I meet and talk to understands it either. So many writers of every color, academic level, age and financial profile are all in search of a haven, a home, a place where they can converge and find each other, but for now we writers of no merit only exist in small groups that don’t necessarily know each other and scramble for space to meet in the margins somewhere between Panera and a public park.

We at The Room to Write are doing our best to create a mecca for writers and it seems we have everything: the writers, the passion, the website, the nonprofit status, the critique group, the events—the clear demand. The only one element that is missing is, unfortunately, what the whole thing hinges on: money. We want everybody to have access to workshops and critique groups and people they can consider their peers. We do not believe that writing well is a skillset only reserved for the wealthy or those who are “in the know.” We want to be the resource that every adult and child can rely on to become better writers. So, perhaps you’d like to help us.

Help us level the writing field! Donate below. 


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