The Benefits of a Writer’s Group

 

Walking by Inner Vision –A Personal  Journal of Faith

“Benefits of a Writing Group”

Writing Assignment #28

How t Find or Create a writer’s group

Photo98_4PoetryLadies_ChristmasMtg

Photo by Lynda McKinney Lambert, 1998.

Left to right: June Moholon Kerstetter, Lynda  McKinney Lambert,

Danae: Ida Barton, Jean Cooper

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Note: This story is inspired by The Poetry Ladies Group – 4 friends who met to discuss and write poetry from 1985 to about 2003, in Ellwood City, PA

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 If you are a writer, you are well aware writing is a solitary activity.Writing is not a group activity, nor is it a spectator sport, normally. Like most creative endeavors, you work alone in your office or dedicated writing space most of the time. It’s no secret, he “writing Life” can often be a lonely life.

At some point you might be willing to work alone in a secluded place to get your “work” done. I know there are some writers  who do work in public places, such as in a library or café.  I admit it’s not how I work. I crave quiet and solitude and I must have this in order to listen to my inner being.  Thinking requires lots of “alone” time.  Thinking is a job.  The only company I have in my writing space is my cats and my dogs. They each have a little bed in this room and they love being with me – and very quietly nap while I write.

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I found  several ways we can interact with other writers through participating in a writer’s group. We can get involved with a writing group, or even form a small group of friends who can encourage and challenge each other to push on. It’s a great way to brainstorm ideas together.

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During my  undergraduate years, I became a part of a small local group of women who love poetry. The group began in 1985 when June Molohon Kerstetter invited three of her friends to come to her home one afternoon to talk about poetry. She invited Danae: Ida Barton, Jean Cooper, and me.

We developed a deep friendship continued on through my own years as I earned my first degree in an  undergraduate program;  through my years of graduate studies for two degrees in two different states; the 2 years I worked at a college  in California;  and the years when I was the executive director of the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts;  and finally, throughout my teaching career  at Geneva College.

I participated in a small group of four local writers.  We met monthly to share our thoughts, new works in progress, and just to fellowship together and talk about literature.  We met for lunch at each other’s homes. After a delightful lunch together, prepared by the hostess, we  then had a meeting where we shared our work. We called ourselves “the Ladies Poetry Group.” We met monthly for about eighteen  years.  We celebrated our birthdays together, and we celebrated Christmas together ever year at Jean’s home. She loved to be the Christmas hostess!

 

Our little writing group:

_June worked as a journalist in her early career.  Later in her life she went back to college to earn a BFA degree with a major in photography. June was articulate, jolly, artistically talented in writing as well as fine arts. June shared her latest writings with us and showed off her recent art adventures. She was working on her memoirs for a couple of years, and recorded them in a notebook.  She read them to us when we met each month. She wanted to leave some of her life experiences, relatives, and memories behind for her family.

 

Photo97_JuneKerstetter_June Molohon Kerstetter (1926- 1999)Photo: December 1997.

 

 

 

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Danae: Ida Barton served as “Poet Laureate” of Beaver County (Pennsylvania). It was a position that brought her so much pleasure as she visited different organizations in the county to speak and give poetry readings. Ida was a flamboyant woman who loved to dress in bright colorful outfits and wore scarves with all of them.

Ida Barton, Christmas 1997.
Danae: Ida Barton, Christmas 1997

Danae: Ida  Barton

(1920 – 2001)

 

 

 

 

Photo97_JeanCooper_

_Jean  Cooper wrote human interest stories and memoirs  for two county newspapers.  Jean loved nature  and wrote  about what she experienced on her long morning walks on the rural roads where she lived. Jean was also very active in her church and spent over a year doing a special book on the history of her church which spanned two-hundred years.  the historical book she wrote was available to church members during the 200 year celebration event.   Jean was a quilter, spinner, weaver, and craftswoman who had many friends in her community.

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Since our writing group met together regularly over so many years, our little literary group eventually ended after June and Ida passed away, and Jean was unable to write any longer due to Alzheimer’s disease.

After June passed away in 1999, the three remaining members of our little group published a chapbook. We called it, “Now,  we are three” and we dedicated it to the memory of June.  The chapbook includes June’s poetry and her photographs.

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My teaching career kept me occupied after our group no longer was a part of my life. As a professor of fine arts and humanities, I worked on lectures for courses, papers for academic conferences, my  own  literary projects. My international travel/study course in Europe each summer gave me material which I developed into a book. “Concerti, Psalms for the Pilgrimage.” The book includes  poetry, historical notes, and reflections I created over a ten-year period while traveling, published by  Kota Press in 2002.  While I wrote the book, my Poetry Ladies Group read all of my writings and their input into the production of the book is invaluable.

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Eight years ago I suddenly lost most of my eyesight. I retired from teaching at that time and now I continue writing projects for literary publications. My writing centers around poetry and essays. I still love esoteric literature and continue to write from my own world view.

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Currently I am at work on two books that are in development. I do this with the aid of technologies for the blind and special programs. Because of modern technology and rehabilitation training, I am more productive than ever with my writing life.

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After sight loss, I became a member of a writing group on-line. This group is well organized and we have an e-mail private line where members can post our work for critique, or just to share information pertinent to writing. In addition, the group meets via phone two times a month. One meeting a month is typically dedicated to critiques of our own work, with each other. The second meeting of the month is when we have special guest speakers who are active in the writing world. Our guest speakers are authors, publishers, professional writers, and even our own members who share notable projects of interest with the group. Our members range from the most basic beginners to writers who have multiple books published and writers who are college professors of literature or writing.

 

The group is a non-profit 501C3 organization and conducts business as well as the publication of two anthologies. There is something for anyone in the group and members can be as involved as they choose. It’s a great experience. The one thing we do not have, however, is lunch together and personal face-to-face contact in an on-line group.

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These are just a few examples of what we can do as writer’s to stay in touch with other writers. You may have a few other ideas of things that work for you as well. There are on-line groups, websites for writers, and Face Book pages for writers as well as writing groups. Find one where you fit in, and you will enjoy it so much!

Happy Writing!  I hope you will take the challenge and reap the benefits of a writing Group.

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Essay by Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

All photos by Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright, 2015.  All rights reserved.

 

Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” published by  Kota Press. She authors two blogs on writing, the humanities, arts, and faith.  She is a free lance writer and her poetry and essays appear in numerous books and literary journals.  She is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities and she exhibits her fiber arts in exhibitions world-wide.
 Currently she has two books in development for publication in 2016.

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