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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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(type)Writing Teens

posted Nov 15, 2017, 6:44 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Nov 16, 2017, 5:21 AM ]

The Youth Room to Write started about a month ago at the Wakefield Club for teens in grades 7 through 12. Things move slowly when creating a new group and it takes some time to see what works and what doesn't. It has been a professional challenge for me to transition from the structure and experience I had as a full-time 8th grade English Language Arts teacher to the much more agile nature of working in a Club in addition to only being there once a week with no requirement for the teens to participate—oh, and I am in direct competition with all the other fun activities going on at the Boys & Girls Club of Wakefield: floor hockey, basketball, F
oosball, video games, pool, just plain sitting and talking with friends, and you get the picture. It means I need to be creative and since I rarely shy away from a challenge: cue the typewriter.

I was wracking my brain recently for ways to get the teens who are in the group to stay in it and to try to win over one or two more to add to our group when I remembered a big, black, plastic, clunky suitcase-looking thing that my Uncle Skip gave to me—has to be over ten years ago now. Against all odds, I found it on the top shelf in a basement room that seemed to serve as some sort of purgatory for material objects before they were finally shown mercy and either donated or sent to a fate worse than death: a landfill.

I brought the big, dusty hunk home. It wobbled in the back seat of my car beneath my 4-year-old's feet as they dangled above it from his perch in his carseat. He was actually afraid to touch it even with his feet and claimed it was destroying the back of the car. He didn’t trust it and I can’t say I blamed him. This was a long shot. I got it home, dusted off the case and opened it up on my kitchen floor. My four children gathered around me wondering what this strange object could possibly be. It wreaked of mildew and still had a yellow, dehydrated sticker that read $3.00 stuck to it. The back said "Olympia International" and it was electric complete with a thick, black, three-pronged industrial-looking plug. I set it on the kitchen table and fired it up.
My kids were awestruck. I have to admit I was a little excited to use it myself and a lot excited to bring something back from the brink of non-existence to show some young people how things used to be done and miraculously still could be. I love mechanical things if for no other reason than because they can be fixed with two hands and some tinkering. No Apple Genius required. No wi-fi password needed. No software update to load before my kids could start punching away at the buttons and see things happening in real time, with real metal hitting a real ink ribbon and making letters right in front of them. They loved it. They argued about who got more time and how many more minutes before the next one had a turn. I didn’t need to worry that they’d hit the wrong key and buy a twelve dollar movie, or that they would catch an online virus, or stumble onto something inappropriate. No Russians could leak these documents. It was safe.

I entered the Boys & Girls Club of Wakefield carrying what must have looked like a laptop from 1980 if there was such a thing. I walked into the Teen Room where there was a group video game going on. I started to doubt that my humble typewriter would draw anybody away from something that looked really fun even to me and they were playing as a group—my chances of sparking interest in writing were sinking by the minute. I carried on and set up shop. I took out the typewriter and plugged it in. Two girls were the first to notice and they came over. One said she had seen a typewriter before and the other had never even seen one in person. I 
fed some paper in and gave them a couple tips and they started typing. 

One was surprised to find that there was no delete button, but figured out through trial and error that if she pressed the “backspace” button and then held the “correction” button that you could type a darker letter over the mistake letter. The other girl said she enjoyed hearing the sound of the typing and loved the fact that the letters appeared right there in front of her on the paper. Forget virtual reality—reality seemed to be pretty amazing too.
 
In the end kids that would have scoffed at the idea of “writing” slowly trickled over to try out the typewriter, which meant they were writing on the typewriter. One young man wrote a short and humorous story while the others wrote journal-style about how they felt typing and what their experience was like. It all qualifies as writing in my book.

Who knew that taking kids off-line and back to simpler times would get them writing? I know now, and I’ll be sure to give that typewriter the second life that it was hoping for while it sat patiently waiting on a lonely basement shelf. 

If you have a typewriter that you’d like to see live out the rest of its years dazzling young writers, contact me. I’ll pick it up and put it to good use. If you know a young writer in grades 7 through 12 that would like to be part of our writing group join us Wednesdays at 4pm.












Professional (Arrested?) Development

posted Oct 24, 2017, 10:40 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Oct 24, 2017, 10:48 AM ]

This past weekend I had the privilege of taking part in some professional development. Thanks to SCBWI (which stands for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) I was able to afford a full-day conference where I was in a room with a bunch of nerds who like words. Yes—finally! Sure, I have taken a writing class before, but I was in a college classroom not a hotel ballroom. I was paying hundreds of dollars, not fifty! I probably ate a drive-thru burger on my way to class, not a buffet lunch on a real dish at a table that wasn’t moving and where I didn’t have to work the blinker or windshield wipers. I must also mention that I did not have any children during college, which means being in a room where I could focus, listen and think all at once with an occasional opportunity to write—well, let’s just say it’s been a while and it felt quite luxurious.


I wrote this during the conference when I was told to focus on what I was feeling at that very moment: “This is bliss. This is me walking into the horizon that I’ve always wondered about and squinted toward assuming it was tomorrow and realizing that it is right now. This is tomorrow. How wonderful. How refreshing. Here I am sitting and thinking and writing. Sneakers and khakis. A ballroom—but no ballgown. Just how I like my ballrooms. People who love writing. People writing. Me. I’m one of those people. Writing and being told to write, not just squeezing it in. Not having to feel guilty. Writing for the sheer pleasure of it. Ahhhh . . . This is bliss.”


Can I call it “professional development” if I am not currently getting paid for the job I am doing? Sure, why not! What do writers have to do before they can call themselves writers? Write, I suppose. The irony is that so many writers hesitate to call themselves writers because they do not make a living doing it, but nearly every writer I meet (even the published ones) simply cannot make a living as a writer. Can we at least refer to ourselves as starving writers—at least visual artists get to call themselves artists if they haven’t sold a single piece of art and they stick the “starving” in the right place. I’m guessing that the fact that they are not eating means they are not selling art. I could be wrong. Yet, I feel like a phony calling myself a writer. It seems like such a slippery art form, which may just be what so many of us like about it.


Later in the conference, we were challenged to picture a scene with a character from something we are working on. I chose the YA novel I am chipping away at and by golly—I may just use this in it: “She took her seat, sliding in quietly and trying to blend into the old wood of the chair and the cold metal of the desk. That’s what she felt—where she felt she was—somewhere between worn wood and cold, cold metal. She didn’t seem to fit either and so she sat floating along and unidentifiable in the space in between.”




It seems it is not always enough to see yourself for what you want to be. You must look outside to others to see what they think you are. But, if you don’t even know what you are then how will they know?! Balderdash![1] I am a writer. I must be a writer. I went to a conference. I didn’t get kicked out. They didn’t ask to see some ID or my published poems, essays or books. They took me at my word. 

When will I?



[1] I was excited to use that word. I sat back and admired the boldness and refreshing quirkiness of balderdash. Only a crazy person would do that. A crazy person, or—a writer.

NaNoWriMo Newbies

posted Oct 14, 2017, 12:25 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Oct 14, 2017, 12:25 PM ]

Meet two friendly and talented writers 
named Satin and Lynne who are the "Municipal Liasons" (MLs) devoted to helping writers crank out those words during (as well as a bit before and after) the month of November: National Novel Writing Month which is shortened to NaNoWriMo (which is pronounced: Nah-No-Ryme-O). Love it!

These gals were at Hamilton-Wenham's NaNo Newbie: Introduction to National Novel Writing Month where I learned all there is to know about this motivational and inspirational way to try to write a novel in one month. There are all sorts of "rebellious" ways to participate if you are not starting a novel or would like to adapt the idea to illustration or poetry or editing a draft of something you already wrote--but it sounds like it may be worth going the purist route "start to finish" if you haven't tried it yet and if for no other reason than for the full NaNoWriMo experience.

As I participate in this myself and support it in any way I can, I will add to The Room to Write's NaNoWriMo page to keep you updated. For the best way to stay in touch with this wonderful group or a group closer to you, sign up at the official page: www.nanowrimo.org and see for yourself. There are forums, events and all sorts of tools to keep you on track.

Once you sign up you can look up the North Shore region or check them out by clicking here.

Good luck!

Get Out and Blog About--About What?!

posted Sep 27, 2017, 6:05 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Sep 27, 2017, 6:07 PM ]

The Sahara Desert stands between my last blog entry and this one (if I ever publish it—that is). The last blog entry is the poor slob schlepping across scorching sand and dodging very thirsty creatures. This blog entry that I am currently writing is that mirage on the horizon that looks like a big pool of water but could end up being nothing more than the heat and some earthly oils playing tricks. One big disappointment.

This blog posting was supposed to happen every two weeks. I even claimed it happened naturally a couple blog entries back, and if I could only get back on a schedule then—ZAMMO—my writing would fall in line and behave itself. So, why do I look at this text on this page and worry that as I get closer it will disappear, only to become the sand I fear it to be instead of the water I wish would materialize.

Well, a blog is happening this time. I am posting this no matter what. Since when did I become so finicky?

First, I wrote a blog entry about how we are all so much better off with some space and some time. I thought I would be so clever and tell the reader that, alas, I do not mean outer space or time travel—but just plain old, Jane old, clock-ticking time and elbow-flailing space. I even went into way too much detail about how much I loved the movie The Explorers secretly hoping a reader would look it up and fall in love with that movie and, shortly after seeing it, seek out a ride on a tilt-a-whirl and laugh and laugh and laugh. But no—I decided the whole thing was “too preachy.” Crumple. Toss.

Next, I found myself in the pew of a church at a funeral mass for a neighbor I knew, but perhaps not as well as I should have allowed myself to. Despite my somewhat distant relationship—I cried quite wholeheartedly during the eulogy. There! I had my next blog entry. I would write about one of my favorite genres: The Eulogy. I wanted to talk about how it is amazing how some well-written words can make you miss a person you were only superficially familiar with and wish you had gotten to know them better. But, I decided that was “too much of a bummer.” Crumple. Toss.

Most recently, I stopped to think about writing and soaked into the feeling of comfort and promise that a blank page gives a gal like me. I love words. I love writing. I wanted to just gush about what it feels like to look at a blank page. It doesn’t get better than a blank page. It’s clean. It’s crisp. It’s all of those cliché descriptive words that seem to all start with the letter “c.” I thought to myself, “Well, there’s no better way to fill a blank page than talking about the beauty of a blank page.” That doesn’t make me lame, does it? Well, I don’t care. Then, before I could get ahold of a blank page, I gave into the lazy lounge lizard call of the television and that comfy chair and realized I was “too tired.” Crumple—O.k. I didn’t do any writing and I am not at a desk writing things down and tossing them in a trash can, but I wanted you to picture that and so I wrote it. Toss.

Anyway, September has been carrying on at a blurry pace. What’s that saying: I can’t see the forest for the trees. And that’s a shame because this is a beautiful time for trees in New England. I finally stepped off the beach, but now I am on a train that is going way too fast. My flip-flops are gone. They didn’t stand a chance. I think they got sucked under the train while I was waiting for it to arrive and standing too close to that yellow line. My sunglasses are scratched and I can’t find them anyway. There’s another pair, sure, but they look too much like my mom’s glasses and so I only wear them when I have to. In the past month I have been to three wakes and three funerals for five different people. That’s too many. Flip flops seem so far away now. I could barely see out of my eyes at one point last week because I was so tired. I couldn’t see out my eyes, people!

Perhaps October will slow down a little. If you don’t hear from me in two weeks peak your head in and make sure I didn’t fall asleep on the train. I’d hate to miss my stop.

Hot dog! I just wrote a blog.




Sand: An Ode in Prose and Poetry

posted Aug 10, 2017, 7:54 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Aug 11, 2017, 5:06 PM ]

Disclaimer: This entry is not a typical blog entry as I understand them to be or, at the very least, have formatted my own to be. This is me with my feet in the sand and my imagination off for a ramble down in that sweet spot where waves meet sandy shore. I thought I would pay tribute to sand--yes, the stuff we love to hate. It's not so bad after all. You just need to surrender to it. Don't overthink things. The prose is from the point of view of a character I am creating for a story and the second is a poem I wrote just for the fun of it:

Love Like Sand
(prose)
Here’s the thing about Love. She lives in the crevices of your life where a person usually finds sand. She is sand. She levels him and makes him look whole, but when a person looks closely at him—deep down into his eyes they find tiny grains of her—not him. Sure, he’s there, but the part that is him is white lined paper—it is the brown paper bag. The tiny shards of her are what shines and catch attention. 

If you were reading a magazine you would just fly through until you caught a glimpse of handwritten words and scribbles and more words scrawled sideways across the unoccupied expanse of a page that was intended to give the eyes a break from too many words and offer beauty through its simplicity. Instead she is there. She can’t help but fill simple spaces. She is sand. She spills down the page. She is not supposed to be there. But, she is and you cannot look away. You cannot turn the page. 

Sand, Sun, Sky
(poem)

Sun lays long across sand.
Seagulls soar—seek refuse, find it.
Dinner, dessert, bedtime, playtime—
all one big sandy dance.
Shivering, splashing, smiling until dimples can’t help themselves.
Everything dissolves
in waves
in warmth.
Voices, gulls echo, mingle, sing.
Not a shod foot in sight.
Just skin and freckles—colorful umbrellas,
but—it’s not raining.
Not a cloud in the sky,
just whispers of white smeared into blue
fading, faintly falling
from the end of the Earth
on through to
the other side.




Stay Disciplined. Become Inspired.

posted Jul 20, 2017, 12:38 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Jul 20, 2017, 12:43 PM ]


I recently read a quote about discipline being more important than inspiration. I have to admit I always thought inspiration set my pen in motion, but when I really look at my past writing motivation and discipline seem to be the real force behind most of it. The motivation to write has sometimes come from an instructor telling the class to write about a certain subject, for a certain purpose and for a certain length of time. Within those somewhat vague parameters I usually struck upon something in my reading, research or circumstances that provided what felt like inspiration, but it had not been inspiration that started the whole process. It had been outside motivation. Every assignment drags a deadline along behind it requiring discipline to get the assignment done.

As I am starting to realize more and more, art is not just the byproduct of some romantic and ideal notion that we all have of a painter in an attic studio with light filtering in just so and cobwebs draped in the eaves—never getting tangled in hair or floating down and getting stuck in the paint. Real art being created is not a writer sitting in a coffee shop or quaint pub, smoking cigarettes and wearing a scarf as he sits without a care and scribbles something poetic on a crisp page that has no cross-outs or misspellings. Art is not a potter at the wheel and music playing in the background while the clay displays perfect symmetry and its clean lines just spin and spin and spin. Nothing explodes in that kiln. Nothing breaks in that studio because it is not real, but imagined.

Things do break and smear and get crumpled up and thrown away when real people are creating real art. For a painter, a writer, a potter or an artist of any sort to be productive there must be discipline. There must be habit. There must not be any giving up or giving in or surrendering to frustration because there will surely be frustration and you can bet on disappointment. A mere mortal simply cannot continue after disappointment without discipline. Art must not stop. The process must be moving constantly. Not everything will be perfect. Not everything will be a pleasure to create. The ink must keep flowing out of the pen. If it stops, concentration is lost, and focus is shifted it is very difficult to get back into a groove.

It has been over a month since I wrote a blog entry which, up until now, had fallen into a natural two-week rhythm. I didn’t even really have to think about it. I would get the feeling that I hadn’t written or polished or published in my blog and so—low and behold—it would usually be about two weeks since I had last produced a piece. What changed? Why has it been over a month since my last entry?

School is out. My family’s schedule changed. Habits changed. Schedules went out the window. My discipline gave way to the siren songs of summer vacation. It was certainly not inspiration that went missing. I just came back from the Canadian province of Alberta where there is a healthy dose of inspiration from every vantage point. If you ever want to feel like a great photographer—go to Alberta. But, clean your camera lens first! You simply cannot take a bad photo there. And, since a picture is worth a thousand words—words should have been dripping from my pen. Not so. Despite having Rocky Mountains, turquoise lakes, glaciers, fields of gold and beautiful horses to inspire me—I barely wrote a word the entire two weeks. Apparently discipline had taken a vacation as well.
I started one journal entry and was interrupted only to restart it a few minutes later in a different location and finally abandoned it halfway down the page. There was so much going on to write about but just no time set aside within which to write. No space was made. I was traveling with my husband and four young children while joining up with extended family and a sea of cousins along the journey. Quiet time alone was simply non-existent. I was there to visit and experience, not to sit quietly alone.

Sometimes we sit and wait for inspiration to wash over us. 

We don’t want to write about nothing. We are convinced that our role is a somewhat passive one and so we will just wait until we think of something worthwhile. I can tell you, that approach is all wrong. If you find yourself with the time to sit and write—just do it. Even if it is about trivialities. Even if you would rather do anything else. Even if you are feeling hopelessly uninspired. Through the discipline of writing constantly and habitually, you will stumble across something inspirational along the way. Inspiration will find us eventually, but not without the steady hands of motivation and discipline holding candles aloft as a guiding light.


Wednesday is the New Friday

posted Jun 8, 2017, 11:18 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Jun 8, 2017, 11:18 AM ]

My middle-age memory is not always so impressive, but I can almost remember a time when Friday was the most exciting day of the week. Work on Fridays was checkered with intervals of making plans and getting ready for the fun that would happen that evening and that would sometimes carry on for most of the weekend. The feeling was akin to Fred Flintstone hearing that whistle blow, grabbing his prehistoric lunch box and sliding down the neck of that amazingly amicable dinosaur. Ironically many of those Fridays involved getting all dolled up to go out and socialize with the possibility of meeting the man of my dreams—which inevitably leads us directly to some very different Fridays in the future.

Low and behold, one of those fun-filled nights I did indeed meet the man of my dreams. Slowly the Fridays of my youth gave way to a bouncing baby girl, which was a dream come true. I suppose with less need for dreams—there followed less time for sleep or at least the kind I used to be able to devote myself fully to. Fridays morphed from being the threshold between work and play into the baton-pass between laps and laps of going and going and going some more. It turns out that misery does love company and so while some saints, martyrs and liars will disagree that bringing a baby into the world is at once amazing and quite surprisingly the most difficult experience of our lives—I can only use my own experience as a reference and will respectfully disagree with others who remember only sunshine and rainbows. And so I was happy to have my husband join in the misery and a sprinkling of precious moments each weekend.

A near-complete handful of children later, my brain and body pretty much shut down by Friday. I made the mistake of signing one of my girls up for something fun one year that met weekly on Fridays at about dinner time. Wow—what a mistake that was. I could not think of anything more taxing than raising four very young children all week just to wrap up the week by having to venture out of the house each Friday during rush hour to find parking and then do it again 45 minutes later when all I wanted was to sit and settle in. Never again.

Eventually I learned to adjust to my evolving—perhaps dissolving—body and mind knowing that Fridays were my weakest point and that no matter how much fun my kids may have—I had to first apply the oxygen mask to myself before I could possibly be of any value to them. Picture that movie where Tom Hanks washes up on an island and a soccer ball becomes his new bestie—that was me every Friday as I would wash up from the weekday ocean with barely enough energy to crawl up onto each sandy, dry weekend.[1]

So, how am I doing these days? It is about a decade after I gave birth to our first child. The learning curve was pretty steep with that first new life we brought into the world. I am no longer a near-constant presence on the couch nursing and we have even made it out of the life-sized maze of diapers in their various sizes and “pull-up” evil disguises. So, aren’t things getting less exhausting? Well, here is where things get wonky.

My kids are all “in school.” Ok, a couple are only in for three hours at a time and not every day—so, yes, barely the time for a shower, a cup of tea and a phone call. Phone calls? Forget those. You will chat with your old Friday Friends about once every month or two if you’re lucky and if one of you is really ambitious—which, if that friend also has kids chances are they are ambitious, but neither of you is a miracle worker.

So, kids are “in school” as barely true as that statement may be. I think to myself, “I have a few ‘extra’ hours,” which I don’t but I tell myself that, and so “I want to start to do some things I have put on hold.” I start to do those things and, being the type of person I have been for some time now, I will do those things in a way that holds me more accountable than I am prepared to be, therefore forcing me to commit to my goals. Now I—possibly you can relate to this—am between two worlds and that is challenging in a good way, exciting in a refreshing way and—well—exhausting in an eye-twitching and information-falling-out-of-my-ears way.

By the time Wednesday comes along I am convinced it must be Friday because my mind and body are breaking down like they used to do on Fridays. I check my calendar: it’s Wednesday. This can’t be! Ahh . . . but it is. Wednesday has become the new Friday (the new one—remember—not the old one that was the prelude to youthful abandon) and I am just going to have to find a floating crate or kick my feet and work that doggy paddle like nobody’s business until that island of sandy respite can be seen on the actual calendar-verified Friday.

Have a good weekend, whenever it arrives and remember: T.G.I.--something or other.



[1] After writing the first draft of this blog entry, I reflected and thought how I couldn’t—and still can’t—remember the title of the movie that I am referencing here with Tom Hanks and his soccer ball bestie. Then, I thought of how I should note that it made sense that I couldn’t remember the title because it is Friday and therefore my body and mind are no longer working at full strength. What was really funny was that indeed it was not Friday, but still Thursday, further exemplifying how Wednesday truly has become—at least at this present moment in my life—the new Friday and that even after very consciously writing about this whole phenomenon on a Thursday I was, only moments later, convinced it was at last Friday. Alas, it is not. Ugghh!

The Room to Write and Blossom

posted May 25, 2017, 4:55 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated May 25, 2017, 5:07 AM ]

On Monday and Wednesday evenings in the town of Wakefield there is a sanctuary for writers and illustrators providing a quiet space to write, illustrate, meet with a critique group, get inspired, stay motivated and enjoy a sense of community.

The Room to Write is a grassroots initiative that evolved from a local writer’s need to find a quiet space to write and connect with other local writers. The idea for The Room to Write began very simply. Founder Colleen Getty, explains, “Whenever I tried to carve out time to focus on my writing it was hard to ignore a pile of laundry, dirty dishes or the sounds of the rest of the family in the other room. No matter where I tried to find a corner to write, my children would always seek me out. Anything creative usually got cut from the ‘to do’ list, but I needed to start making it more of a priority.” So—she did.

What started as a need for a quiet room has evolved along the way. Two installments of the “Write After Dinner” Series at the Albion Cultural Exchange were organized as a fun way to reach out to non-writers as well as support local charities, promote downtown restaurants and sustain the sense of community so vibrant in Wakefield. As for writers, The Room to Write is reaching out to them in several ways. Beginning next month on June 15th local writer, David Goodberg, will lead a writer’s critique group in the space on the third Thursday of each month.

Writing is the backbone of so much that we are surrounded by in our lives. From cookbooks to screenplays, website and marketing content to poetry—the space is for writers of every genre and form. Emily Seward of Kids’ Test Kitchen uses her time at The Room to Write to focus on creating and writing her recipes, marketing materials and the variety of content that is required as part of running any successful business. Emily shared, “Wednesdays are a half-day for my kids, so I find that I don't have enough time to get into the ‘flow’ of my work. Wednesdays are the opposite of productive for me. Totally looking forward to spending a couple hours in The Room to Write tonight. My first visit last week was SUPER productive!”

There have been two Meet & Greets for writers and illustrators with a third planned for June 5th at the WCAT Studios where authors and illustrators will discuss ideas for collaborating with WCAT Staff to adapt their stories and journeys to the screen. Most recently, a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham andWakefield resulted in a space-sharing agreement in the Wakefield Club after Club hours. Wakefield Club Director, Bethany Riley, was enthusiastic about opening up the space for writers and illustrators after Club hours. She responded to the proposal, “Love the idea of the space being used. Let's get the logistics down and make it happen.”

The Room to Write hopes to offer programs and a supportive writing community for adults with an eye to opening the same concept up to kids in the future. Colleen Getty reflects on her years as a middle school ELA teacher, “My favorite part about teaching English was the creative writing portion of the year when I would guide my students through the assembly of individual portfolios. It was middle school, but we would workshop pieces in the same manner and with the same respect for the writing and writer as students would in a college writing class. Students would edit draft after draft until the written pieces were polished. It was hard work, but my students were always so proud of their final portfolios and the authenticity of their written portraits. I would like to get back to that—help young people experience how satisfying it can be to express themselves creatively through carefully crafted words. With all the instant ways young people can communicate these days, they do not always slow down and consider what it is they are saying and the weight behind words. Thoughtful writing can be very therapeutic for all ages as it encourages contemplation and reflection. Those are skills our young people need now more than ever and they don’t need any fancy technology to do it. In fact, technology is often a distraction and a hindrance. They just need a pen, some paper and a quiet space.” That is something to look forward to once The Room to Write is solidly established for adults.

Presently though, The Room to Write welcomes writers and illustrators of every variety to take refuge in the shared space after hours at the Boys & Girls Club of Wakefield in the Civic Center on Main Street. Writing is a quiet art and does not require expensive equipment, special lighting or much space. It’s a very humble art form and for all those same reasons writers are often spread out, isolated and creating on their own. The Room to Write is hoping to change that by not only being a source from which writers can gather information but also by providing a supportive community made up of people with a shared passion.

To learn more about The Room to Write, to become a member or to receive information about future writer/illustrator events, please contact Colleen Getty at colleen@theroomtowrite.com or come down to the Boys & Girls Club of Wakefield located on the ground-level of the Americal Civic Center at 467 Main Street to see the space.

Sit down, slow down y escribir.

posted May 9, 2017, 8:15 AM by Colleen Getty   [ updated May 9, 2017, 8:25 AM ]

It’s quiet—so quiet. I can actually hear the clock on the wall ticking. It is not so much a tick but a soft tap of something fragile, steady as it circles around and around and around. It’s calm. And this is not even in the “Quiet” room. This is the “Not-so-Quiet” room. Oh yes, I suppose it is “Not-so-Quiet” in here. There are grown men playing a game of basketball directly above my head in the Gymnasium upstairs. Some might mistake the sound for the running of the bulls in Spain as they are set free from their pens and allowed to thrash from one end of a city to the other in search of any old gap that will give way to their mass. However, I am not in Spain.

I am in a room and I barely register the trampling above. Those feet and legs and sounds are not my responsibility. They are not being made by eight little feet ages 9, 7, 6, or 3 and so poof—they don’t bother me. I do not need to walk upstairs and tell any of them to go back to bed—they have school tomorrow. No. I am in this room to write. And that is all I have to do. I focus on my words until slowly, slowly that mass of hooves turns into distant ocean waves that drift in and out, sometimes louder and sometimes barely retracing the damp silhouette licked into the sand just moments before. Who needs Spain and large animals chasing grown men when I have a room beneath grown men chasing a ball. It’s as if I’m in Spain.

People pay big money to get away from it all—some place like Spain, perhaps—but really we just need to harness a few hours a week for ourselves and our thoughts. Remember thoughts? I used to whittle away hours thinking. To find a room alone with my thoughts I don’t have to go to Spain. I can go a long way on much less. The last time I was in this room there were pens, markers, halves of pencils and paperclips on the floor along with tiny pieces of paper (probably the wrappings of crayons that were taken off and broken in to itsy bitsy pieces of confetti—because that is what kids do). And, yes, I looked around for a minute and thought I should go find a vacuum, but—no!  

In this room I am not “mom.” I am not a cookie, meatball, cake, sandwich or pasta maker. I am not drink-getter. I do not have to tell anybody to go to bed, again and again, or get ready for school, again, or to practice piano, again, or to brush their teeth, “for real this time, and floss—I’m gonna check them.” Do moms in Spain have to do this too?

In this room I am a writer. I sit and sip water. I look around and wait for a thought—wait for it. I sit. I sip. I type. I scribble. I just stare. I could be in Spain for all I know.

Nobody asks if they can sit in my lap and can I read a book too? Nobody asks what I am drinking or if they can have a sip of it—or actually, can I just get them their own drink? Nobody starts pressing buttons on my keyboard as I type or hovers so close that I have to save what I’m writing every five seconds because they are going to press something—I just know it. Nobody is taking my pen and scribbling on furniture or asking for a pen or writing in my notebook. Nobody is asking what I’m staring at or why I’m not talking or starting to laugh because this must be a game—“Staring contest starting . . . NOW!” Nobody is asking me anything in English or in Spanish. Quiet knows no language.

I listen to the clock tick and think of just how long a minute has the potential of being. At home minutes just do not exist—except in time-out, on the step at the bottom of the stairs.

Today, I told myself, “Going to a room to write is the last thing I have time or energy for.” The whole day was one of those never-ending task-to-task marathons where you do not have energy for the next task and there is no way you can do one more thing, but you tell yourself you can do one more thing and you do it. Then you doubt, then you do—one more thing. You go on like that, one task at a time, all day. I’m exhausted. How can I write? A drive down the street may as well be a flight to Spain. I’m that tired! 

But I decide to do one more thing. I pack up my bag. I get in my car. I go. I get here. I open the door. I sit down. I set up. I hear the clock tapping gently, setting the pace and slowing me down. I realize as I turn inward—I awaken. At home I would still be micromanaging, redirecting, feeling so much more exhausted than I do right now.

Write. Now.

Sit down, slow down and write.


Fear and Water

posted Apr 18, 2017, 12:12 PM by Colleen Getty   [ updated Apr 18, 2017, 12:22 PM ]

Poetry—where do I begin? It’s so finely tuned. It’s so free, and yet—tethered. Tethered to our souls and to unspoken truths—to tradition and to its many varied forms. It does not tend to drone on and on—although it certainly has the ability to do so and famously has at times. But, aside from the lengthy examples, poetry is quite possibly the most efficiently packaged transcription of our deepest musings, desires, and dreads.

A picture—sure, it’s worth a thousand words. But, what happens when it rains and a picture warps and weeps and wallows in its own pulpy mess. You still have those thousand words. Words will never dissolve or run and there are no tangible enemies of words until, of course, they are written. That is Water. There is no getting around the fact that Water seems to be at odds with Art, in general. As for Art’s other nemesis—there is really only the one intangible foe. That is Fear. I guess the enemies of art boil down to two very large and intimidating but quite agile infiltrators: Fear and Water. It makes sense. Most of the Earth is covered by the two.

Back to poetry—to words and images. For something so cerebral, it can feel quite physical. A feeling of what we are trying to convey rises to the surface of consciousness and percolates until we nearly tremble with its presence and need to set it free in some form—hoping Fear and Water do not seep in and stop it all.







I have never been to a poetry reading, except maybe in a land far away and at a time I think I may have imagined, but I recently went to an open poetry reading organized by Mass Love Distro. It never even crossed my mind to bring poems because I just wanted to sit and listen—to soak it all in and see what the setup was. I pictured lots of people in a room and having to read my poems for them. Fear won. So, I just sat trying to absorb the words coming at me. Some had copies of poems on paper while others scrolled through phones serving as pocket teleprompters. 

The reading was intimate and seemed to be a safe place to uncover your heart and just lay it out for all to watch beat, to admire—then sit while focus shifts to the next heart and the next and the next. It is a very different experience from reading poems on paper. The whole thing was a bit awkward and at times uncomfortable, but I guess something so human and intimate should be awkward. Being human is awkward. There will never be Hollywood versions of our selves. 

There is silence, there is nervous laughter, there is shifting in seats, there is the drifting imagination and the forced refocusing. There are the explanations and disclaimers, the apologies and for the brave ones among us there is the setting free—the letting it all hang out. 

Honesty is such a relief. Honesty is a stripping down, an admission, a step toward acceptance of our self. Honesty is not neat. It is pure, and in order for something to be consumed in its pure state it must remain raw.

Maybe I should have brought some of my poems. The others tell me, “Just pull them up on your phone.” But, “I don’t have a phone,” I explain. I feel like I missed a rare opportunity. I wanted to grab a paper and pen and write a poem right there as I felt the pull to participate. But I did not. Next time. The road is long and my pen is full of ink. I will just need to be on the lookout for Fear and Water trying to stop me.


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