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posted Aug 19, 2019, 6:14 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Aug 19, 2019, 6:14 PM ]

We were so happy to see you at the Festival by the Lake in Wakefield on Saturday, June 8th! 

It was another beautiful day by the Lake this year. The typewriters were a big hit and in motion the entire time and our table was proud to display The Room to Write's New Business of the Year award from the Wakefield/Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce. We even got a photo, thanks to local Town Counselor Mehreen Butt, with Ryan Boyd at WCAT Studios with their well-deserved Business of the Year award.

So many people came to our table asking questions, offering suggestions and just plain supportive of the effort to keep writing skills sharp among people of all ages. We talked about our youth programming in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club of Stoneham and Wakefield, our adult Critique Group and Meet & Greets, the ideas in the works for Senior Writing programming as well as the interest into the mechanics of the written word: handwriting, print-making, typing, calligraphy and writing utensils. I spoke to some young adults who are too old for a youth group and too young for an adult group. So, we're going to organize a Young Adult Critique Group as a resource for writers in their late teens and early twenties. 

We ran out of all our brochures, which we'll take as a good sign of interest in what we're doing and made some great connections that will lead to interesting ideas in the future. No matter who came by there was always something that connected them to the written word or the act of putting words onto paper. It is just a matter of discovering how.

Special thanks to Sally Chetwynd who joined us at our table for several hours. She had her books, her CD and information about the upcoming 2019 New England Authors Expo on Saturday, June 29th Noon to 6:00 PM in Haverhilll, MA. A couple of our board members also stopped by as well as the tireless George Getty who helped set up and break down the table, tent and typewriters. 

It was a great day!

Festival 2018

posted Aug 19, 2019, 6:12 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Aug 19, 2019, 6:13 PM ]

I almost bought a bubble machine, candy, balloons—but in the end it was the two donated manual typewriters that made people of all ages stop and stay awhile.

The Festival by the Lake was the first event since The Room to Write received its determination letter from the IRS that it was officially a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It was exciting. It was festive. It was a picture perfect day. How would the idea of writing be received? What if nobody came by? What if words weren’t so cool after all? Six hours seemed long. It looked long on paper. In the end, it flew by!

I set up all my information for The Room to Write and placed the two manual typewriters perpendicular to each other on a card table. One was facing the lake—what a whimsically romantic thought remembering it just now. I brought plain white paper. I brought paper with flowers, paper with angels, paper with an inspirational scene. Most of the tiny typists weren’t concerned with the paper—it was the keys they were really interested. The majority of my visitors were young ones from as tiny as age 2 all the way up to the teen years. 

Much like my experience in the past kids were drawn to the unfamiliarity of those two contraptions sitting on the table. What in the world was that? Surprisingly some knew the name: typewriter. There were no plugs. There were no screens. Nothing to strap on your head or stick in your ears. No waivers to sign. Absolutely nothing glowed and yet those typewriters blew their minds. Many were so young they couldn’t spell yet—but they wanted to. It was endlessly amusing, which led to most of the little novelists being coaxed or carried away eventually by their parents who had hoped for more from a festival than to watch their kid type on an old typewriter.

For me it was success! The sound of words, in many cases partial words or misspelled words, hitting a page was music to my ears and to the ears of those little ones. Typing really can be quite a comforting sound if you don’t have a headache. Perhaps it has that same addictive quality as bubble wrap, but instead of destroying a bubble you are creating words, sentences, stories. I’d say that is even BETTER than bubble wrap. Wow—that’s an idea for next year: which do kids prefer bubble wrap or typewriters?

Later in the afternoon the always wonderful and endlessly generous Carol Gordon Ekster joined me. She brought her wonderful books along with her to share with festival visitors, including my children who were fortunate enough to hear Carol’s stories read that day by the author herself.

If that wasn’t special enough, late in the afternoon two 8th grade girls came over and sat at the two typewriters. Before starting my family I was an 8th grade English teacher who wanted nothing more than for my students to enjoy creatively crafting the written word. The two girls at the festival that day were not there to just poke at the keys a few times and move on. They picked pretty paper from the selection. I showed them how to load it into the typewriter and there they sat for a good long time—writing poetry. One found a poem she had written in fifth grade to type out along with whatever she had decided to write there in the moment. One found something inspirational written by JRR Tolkien to add to her page of poetry. It doesn’t get better than that!

I was so thrilled to see so many young people basking in the satisfaction of something so simple. In these days of overcomplicating everything—it was nice to see that “simple” can still make people of all ages stop and stay awhile.

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