“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation . . . We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
—Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird
Dear Woman Who Writes,
In this newsletter, you’ll find information about our next meeting—Tuesday, March 8, where we’ll celebrate women authors and present writing for peer comments. You’ll also find an update on our leadership team, a writing prompt, a list of conferences, a retreat, and submission opportunities. Included is an invitation to join us, as a leader, member, or supporter. You can scroll down or linger awhile to read the brief essay that begins our newsletter each month!
Passion is the theme of this month’s flash essay. One of its’ definitions, according to Ms. Merriam-Webster is, “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.” Another definition is “suffering,” as in Christ’s passion. There is some suffering involved, —when facing a blank page or receiving a rejection, for example. Nevertheless, we persist.
There is such joy when the muse visits, when the words just seem to come, when we finally discover a perfect beginning or ending, when we read our work aloud and our peers respond with oohs and aahs. The self-discovery of writing is also a joy, a bit like prayer or meditation for this writer.
For those times when your passion for writing is closer to suffering than joy, here are some tips that might help—
- Recognize organic writing prompts—what you hear, what you say, what you wonder.
- Take Ernest Hemingway’s advice: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
- Discover the joy in sensory observation. As I write this, the sun shining through the window warms my shoulders, the songbirds are trilling spring, and a train croons a message. And I have not even left my office to greet my dog, who smells like a wet wool sweater; she’s gotten into the fountain again.
- Honor the process. In a first draft, process is more important than product. Many of us know Anne Lamott’s instruction to write a “shitty first draft.” Many of us have no trouble complying with her request.
- Ignore the worn adage, “Write what you know.” Write what you don’t know.
- Invite the muse to join you, realizing she has a busy schedule and you’re not at the top of her to-do list today.
- Don’t wait to be inspired. Write to be inspired!
- Love your writing life!
OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM!
“Leadership maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a goal,” says Forbes magazine. This is also true of our little nonprofit. Women Who Write needs a team to establish and reach goals collaboratively with members. We need you!
We have begun our journey to re-envision the possibilities for Women Who Write. We’re proud to have added fellow travelers to our leadership team. Two new members to our team are Megan Oliver Thompson and Irene Sulyevich. Megan is a new WWW member who writes fiction and nonfiction. She’s moved recently to Louisville from San Francisco with her husband and young children. We’re taking advantage of her hiatus from law practice. Irene has been an active Women Who Write member for years. Irene writes memoir and personal essay, often on Medium.com. We are taking advantage of Irene’s deep experience with Women Who Write and her full-time information technology job expertise. Megan will work on programming—retreats, workshops, and write-ins. Irene will coordinate updates on our social networks. Kim and Alisa will continue as director and secretary through 2022.
We still need a treasurer to oversee our finances, keep records, pay (our few) bills, oversee the budget, send reports, balance our bank statements, help collect membership dues. Note—we are a very low budget operation. Our tax reporting is a 990—formerly a postcard. As outgoing treasurer Mel Dixon says, “It’s the easiest job!”
Members, please contact me—Kim— via email@example.com if you are interested in joining our leadership team in any capacity. Your inquiry is not a commitment! Leaders meet once monthly for about one-hour to check on progress and plan.
Our March 8 meeting will be Zoom videoconference only. The studio will not be available for our scheduled hybrid meeting because the owner must attend training for (herself) and her unsocialized dog. We will return to the Mellwood Arts Center studio for our next member meeting on Tuesday, April 12!
Thanks to Alisa for leading this meeting, which begins at 6:30 PM. Here’s the Zoom link for March 8—
Here is the agenda—
- In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll begin our March 8 meeting by celebrating our favorite female writers. Please share the name of your favorite author or poet—one who has influenced your writing, your life, or your writing life. What qualities of the woman’s writing affect you? If you wish, share a poem or a brief excerpt of the writer’s work. If you can’t narrow to one author, choose a female character who’s influenced you!
- We will critique up to five poems, short stories, or personal essays. Please limit your submission to five pages double-spaced. Send your poetry or prose to the attention of Alisa at firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Tuesday, April 8.
- The host will screenshare your manuscript so members can read along while you read aloud.
- Members will provide strength-based critiques. Peer writers should focus on paragraphs or sections that are vivid, intriguing, contain significant details, teach, or surprise.
- Helpful revision suggestions include such statements as, I’d like to know a bit more about this character; This sentence might make a great beginning; It feels like something is missing; Please consider developing this section.
Photo of the WWW director’s junk drawer
WRITING PROMPT—OBJECT LESSONS
“The longer you look at an object, the more of the world you see in it.”
Objects are vital to storytelling. They provide the reader with an image and a deeper understanding of character. Consider the famous first chapter of Tim Obrien’s book, The Things They Carried, which characterizes the soldiers by describing objects they carry onto the battlegrounds of the Vietnam war—a bible, a bag of marijuana, a photo of a girlfriend. Objects give characters something to do—she throws her keys, he lifts a coffee cup, she grasps her cellphone. The object helps create a scene the reader can visualize. When you put an object in a story, you have created an opportunity for action. The mug slips from his hands, crashing to the ceramic tile. She lifts the cellphone to shoot a stealth photo of her boyfriend with another woman. She then tosses the keys to his apartment in the garbage.
Your prompt, should you choose to write it, is based on objects.
- Take a stroll in your home to identify objects that might serve as helpful writing prompts. You might choose some unlikely spots—a junk drawer, a pantry, a closet, a recipe box.
- Collect an object or objects (an odd number is always good).
- Write for 30-45 minutes, without stopping, then stop to see what you’ve wrought. Where will you and your composition take your first draft?
- We’d love for you to read your prompt response, raw or revised, at one of our meetings.
WE WANT TO SUPPORT YOUR WRITING LIFE.
Consider applying for the GoodLit retreat at http://www.wedgwoodcircle.com/goodlit
The annual GoodLit Retreat, from August 11 to August 18, is a week-long gathering that “brings together award-winning authors and industry leaders to mentor a new generation of aspiring writers. Hosted in Stanford, Kentucky, GoodLit writers take part in a series of workshops, enjoy personal writing time to develop their craft, receive one-on-one mentorship, and gain renewed creative energy from intentional rest in the beautiful Kentucky countryside.” Accepted members receive funding for this retreat.
Attend the Southern Kentucky Book Festival on Saturday March 26 at the Knicely Convention Center in Bowling Green. From 9 AM to 5 PM. https://sokybookfest.org/bookfest/
Free event, includes author speakers, presentations and a book fair.
Attend the Bluegrass Writers Coalition Conference is on Saturday April 30 —10AM to 4:30 PM in Frankfort KY. $75 for a “full adult” registration (whatever that is) and $55 for students— at the Frankfort Country Club.
Calls for submission listing on New Pages.com— https://www.newpages.com/classifieds/calls-for-submissions
Contest listing on NewPages.com—https://www.newpages.com/classifieds
Publishers on NewPages.com (small presses)—https://www.newpages.com/books/publishers
Submit to the Medium.com publication Landslide Lit(erary) . The co-editor WWW members would love to publish your fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. No need to be a paying medium subscriber. Bonnie and Kim will provide a Medium.com tutorial and editorial suggestions for submitted manuscripts. You do NOT need to be a paying subscriber to Medium.com. See submission guidelines here.
The literary blog HerStry is looking for personal essays on the theme, “Before and After,” Deadline is April 1. Published essays earn $20 for the writer!
Consider submitting to Minerva Rising’s on-line journal, “The Keeping Room.” The journal publishes “short stories, essays, free writing, poetry, and photo essays that touch on topics related to Women’s Wisdom, Lessons Learned, Self-care, Bodies, Relationships, and Community.”
Funds for writers newsletter—provides paying markets for writing.
Under the Gum Tree is a well-respected quarterly literary journal of creative nonfiction, with a variety of themed sections (shorter) and a feature article in each issue. Two of my students published features in the journal that began with writing prompts!
Here is a collection of 21 markets that publish humor writing.
Brevity accepts flash nonfiction submissions year-round. Well respected for short creative nonfiction (750 words or less). Hard to get in, but why not try? https://brevitymag.com/submissions/
For Women Who Roar: This platform is looking for poetry and stories of healing, writing and recovery.
Check out The Manifest Station: On Being Human literary blog. Submit poetry, essay, fiction, art, and photography. Submissions are open continuously.
This clearing house has an amusing name, “Publishing and Other Forms of insanity. The list of submission opportunities is ongoing.
HERE ARE WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT OUR WRITING COMMUNITY!
Write for our web blog! Members of all genres are invited to compose blogs about writing or life— essay, poem, fiction all welcome (1300 words maximum).
Attend our monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month. Our next meeting is Tuesday, February 8 at 6:30 PM on Zoom. Our March meeting is Tuesday March 8 beginning 6:30 PM (hybrid on Zoom and in-person at Mellwood Arts Center).
Become a member (or re-member)—As a community, WWW strives to nurture your writing life. We hope you choose to join or renew as a member and participate in our monthly meetings, author talks, retreats, and workshops. We will notify persons when they are due to renew. Regular annual membership is $50. Student annual membership is $25.
Visit our Facebook Page and stay awhile—@womenwhowriteky. Help us exceed 1000 followers. Answer questions. See video interviews of WWW meetings with visiting writers.
Be safe. Be strong. Be peace.
Love your writing life!
Kim, Alisa, Megan, and Irene