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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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 ]
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.

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.

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. 

An Ode to August

posted Sep 1, 2019, 9:52 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Sep 1, 2019, 9:53 AM ]

August is gone. I didn't post. I was enjoying August so fully that I stayed by its side the entire month. I didn't want to believe it would ever fall behind me.
I couldn't let go long enough to blog about it. I just let the sun, sand and water slip through my fingers and toes and hair--relishing the feeling.
The sun hypnotized me and told me not to leave. So, I stayed. I played. I prayed for no end to summer.
But all things must end.
That stinks.
And so an ode is in order--to August. Here's to August!

Thanks for the memories.


What am I looking for
when I scan the horizon
searching for a sign
of what?
from who?
I'm looking for you
even though I know I won't find you.
I can't.
You're not here.
You weren't even here when you were
But I think I'll capture you
or a piece of you--
from you.
A note, I guess. A talisman, perhaps.
Telling me I'm not the only one looking
and remembering
and trying
to find something special
sparkling, shimmering
in between worlds.

What would it prove to find you,
to pick up a clue, left
for me, from you--


Traveling Hobo Circus

posted Jul 24, 2019, 6:40 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Jul 24, 2019, 6:44 PM ]

I’m supposed to be concentrating.

I’m supposed to be focusing on all things writing.

But—I can’t. I can’t stop thinking about my next stop as part of my family’s “No Home Hobo Summer Adventure.” We sold our family home at the beginning of July. Signed on the solid line and POOF it’s someone else’s now. I have to admit it is strange thinking of how the place I called home for the last fifteen years, where I and my husband welcome four babies and watched them grow is not our place anymore. It’s weird knowing I can’t just walk in the front door to use the bathroom or walk through the gardens I built from the roots up. I can’t walk around my garden—their garden—deadheading flowers and picking ripe berries. Some things will always feel like ours even when they aren’t anymore.

None of that is ours anymore. It’s a bit strange.

What may be even stranger is that I, my husband and our four children have no home right now. We are—shall we say—between homes and yet we refer to our old home and our new home as “our” homes even though, technically, neither actually belongs to us at the moment. It has been a bit nutty for our family of six to leap without a lily pad to land on. However, I suppose we can’t overthink too many things or we’d never do anything. We outgrew our house and so we sold it.

Sometimes one thing at a time is all human beings can (or should) do. So, that’s what we did. We have been trying to just focus on the next thing and do that. Luckily a lily pad appeared just as we took our foot off the last one. What a miracle that was. Divine intervention perhaps! There’s just one problem. We have to find somewhere to set our twelve feet between now and October. A minor inconvenience.

So, instead of freaking out about not actually having a home at the moment, we decided to capitalize on the fact that it’s summer and things are already a bit loosey-goosey by nature. Why not make all this no-home-ness feel intentional. The first thing we needed to come up with was a marketing campaign of sorts to assure our kids this was all part of “the plan” and—of paramount importance to them—very fun!

And so the Traveling Hobo Circus was born. Thanks to a few good friends, relatives, and neighbors we began hitting the road like any respectable group of hobos immediately. First we invaded our realtors’ home only three doors down from our “old” house. It was like something out of a comedy sketch when we made our exit barely in time for the new owners to perform their “walk through” giving them a wave, getting in our car only to drive three doors down and get out again where we were graciously invited to swim in their pool, work with use of their wi-fi, eat, drink and overall—be a  quite merry band of hobos.  

We know we have way too much stuff to qualify as legit hobos but we are indeed traveling and working. We have set up our modern-day Hobo Circus Camp with way more than tidy bindles trailing us in five different locations since July 9th and tomorrow we head out for a sixth destination and then Monday we go to our seventh and final Hobo Camp until we return at the end of the summer.

The kids are definitely getting a summer they will not soon forget. I will be content to be in one place, and hopefully find my calendar that went missing in May, once we are able to settle down in our new home in the fall. Until then—look for us traveling around this summer and if any of us seem a little scattered, it’s because—quite literally—we are.

Here’s to embracing your inner hobo and just going where the wind blows you for a while.

Enjoy your summer travels wherever they may take you and if they take you nowhere, well—I can’t say that sounds too bad to me right now.


A Word of Thanks

posted Jun 12, 2019, 8:51 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Jun 12, 2019, 8:52 PM ]

The Room to Write would like to thank the Wakefield-Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce for shining a light on words when they presented the Best New Business award to our nonprofit organization at their Annual Meeting on Thursday.
Many of you are familiar with the proclamation, “Man shall not live on bread alone. . .” I think we are all in agreement that human beings need physical sustenance to survive, but beyond maintaining life there is the deeper and more elusive concept of what it means to be alive.

That’s where words come in. Out loud, in print and online, words have the power to connect us and to tear us apart. The ability to express ideas clearly in writing is the backbone of our educational system, fundamental to business success, a positive outlet for emotional expression, and a binding agent for the solid foundation on which social justice sits.

Words matter and since 2016 The Room to Write has been working to demonstrate just how important they are by supporting writers of every age, ability and means. We are grateful to see that the Chamber recognizes that we need more than just bread alone to nourish the human spirit and to create communities that don’t just survive—but thrive.
Thank you also to The Room to Write's Board of Directors who support our mission with their whole hearts: Emily Seward, Vice President; Jeanette Murray, Secretary; and Roberta Hung, Treasurer.

Congratulations to our good friends and generous community partners at Wakefield Community Access Television Studios who were awarded the Best Business of the Year Award! We were so happy to share the night with them.

I seem to have misplaced May

posted Jun 4, 2019, 2:18 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Jun 4, 2019, 2:25 PM ]

Oh Lord! I missed May. I fell asleep like Rip Van Winkle or perhaps a wave just swept me away. 

Since September 2016 I have somewhat consistently contributed to the same blog—despite still not fully understanding what exactly the blog is supposed to be. It sometimes reads as a press release about events to come or in the past. Other times it reflects on the process and challenges of working to support a community of writers. Still, there is a third blog form that takes on the appearance of just thinking aloud (or on paper) for the sake of creativity or philosophy: poetry, essays, or pieces from fictional works of my own. 

Whatever the form the blog entries take, they have always shown up once a month at a minimum. This year, however, a moment in May was nowhere to be found. Perhaps it was that Black Hole that we all saw pictures of in April. Seems suspicious that an image of a Black Hole shows up in April and then May goes missing. However it happened I’m sorry to have broken what had been a concerted effort towards consistency.

Consistency has been the secret sauce in establishing The Room to Write in my own life and as an organization. Consistency seems to be one of those ingredients that must exist in any effort. It can aid in keeping a mission of any size a bit more predictable and achievable. A schedule can be a very important tool in life. Reliability and consistency cannot be had without some sort of schedule. If you perform a task or work in a career presently that you want to continue to work in—be consistent and reliable about your business. 

While writing this, I think of (strangely enough) McDonald’s. I can’t say this is exactly an endorsement since I can count on only one finger how often I’ve been there in the last few years—but McDonald’s is doing something right to still be in business. There was a time when I could think of nothing more exciting than biting into a Big Mac and fries, but times have changed. With this in mind, I decided to take a quick look at the history of McDonald’s while writing. It seems no coincidence why I thought of their business model when stunned and disappointed at my omission of May in what had otherwise been a reliably consistent blog.

Here’s what I found at the McDonald’s website ( “In 1954, [Ray Kroc] visited a restaurant in San Bernardino, California that had purchased several Multimixers. There he found a small but successful restaurant run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, and was stunned by the effectiveness of their operation. The McDonald’s brothers produced a limited menu, concentrating on just a few items – burgers, fries and beverages – which allowed them to focus on quality and quick service.” It went on to say, “Ray Kroc wanted to build a restaurant system that would be famous for providing food of consistently high quality and uniform methods of preparation. He wanted to serve burgers, fries and beverages that tasted just the same in Alaska as they did in Alabama.” 

Well, The Room to Write is no McDonald’s, but there is something to be gleaned from the idea of focusing on a select number of things and doing them in a quality way, consistently. This is quite possibly one of the most difficult challenges in this modern day. Each of us is doing a lot of things, but are we doing them well? Luckily for the blog—summer is approaching. That is when the world slows down for me—just long enough to catch up (if even by just letting it lap around me only to appear lined up where I left off). There is a benefit from trying new things and setting out in new directions. There, too, is a benefit from sitting back to see what worked with an intentional focus on doing what was done well going forward. The trick is that we cannot always discover what we did well until we’ve tried lots and lots of things first. Go figure.

So, here’s to trying new things and grabbing hold of those things that resonate and reverberate within us in a way that gets our attention. Here’s to ignoring what the world is doing around us (or saying we should be doing) for periodic intervals in order to see and hear what we are doing. It’s no easy task to do what we believe to be worthy and in keeping with our character. 

Here’s to consistency, quality and success in whatever it is we set out to do!

Reflections on In-person Connections

posted Apr 9, 2019, 8:20 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Apr 9, 2019, 8:37 AM ]

After an event, people want immediate photos, feedback and reflections of what they just experienced. People who attended want to see themselves having a good time. People who were unable to attend want to see what they may have missed out on—or were fortunate to avoid. However, the organizer is often exhausted and sated, still processing and recovering from the exertion that went into connecting others to each other and to the focus of the event.

The Room to Write’s mission was to connect writers and illustrators to each other and to what has been or will be written and illustrated. Two weeks in a row meet and greet events were devoted to the act of connecting people and what they have created or hope to create.

The first week was for adult writers and illustrators. We met at Cedric’s Studio and it felt great to pack over twenty people into a comfortable space on a winter’s eve. No matter how many Meet & Greets we organize, it is still pleasantly surprising to experience such a healthy mix of friendly faces and new faces, published writers and emerging writers, visual artists representing everything from photography to painting, and storytellers from every age and outlook.

The second week event was for youth writers and illustrators. Adults aren’t the only ones who crave creativity and to be surrounded by others who want to talk shop. With sports and science being the big money-makers these days—kids don’t always get a chance to tuck themselves into words or to sit one-on-one with published writers and illustrators who stand as proof that real human beings are behind the creative words and images kids connect with.

A whopping fifty people popped into the Boys & Girls Club of Wakefield on March 28th and thirty-five of them were young people. Thirty-five! How refreshing. The best part is that every parent and grandparent who I have spoken to since that event tells me how their child or grandchild could not stop talking about the experience.

The young people who came out to revel in words and illustration and walked away with a journal and pen as well as a free book, signed by the author were smitten—smitten with storytelling, both the creation of stories and the act of taking them in.

March turned out to be a wonderful celebration of words for old and young alike. It is always inspiring to see how the simplicity of words and endless possibility of creativity can still win the day despite all that beeps, bumps and blurts around us.

Thank you to all the authors and illustrators who joined us, giving so generously of their time on a weekday night: Carol Gordon Ekster, Jannie Ho, Rajani LaRocca, Dianna Sanchez, Laurie Stolarz, Dirk Tiede and Rob Vlock.

Thank you to the Boys & Girls Club of Stoneham and Wakefield, The Savings Bank, Whitelam Books and Follow Your Art Community Studios. Last, but not least, a very special thanks to Jeanne McGonagle for volunteering to help with this event.

If you know a young person who would like to read any of the books given away at the youth event, a copy of each book is being donated to the Beebe Library in Wakefield, along with the second and third volume of Paradigm Shift donated by Dirk Tiede.

If you would like to see more events like this in your community feel welcome to contact us, donate to The Room to Write and help spread the word about words.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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