A few readers (all two of you) recently asked me why I haven’t been writing on my blog. As Christmas approaches and 2016 winds down, I thought I’d take a minute to give a brief update on what’s-a-happen’ in my writerly life.
First off, lack of voice on my blog does not mean I haven’t been writing. Quite the contrary. I joined two writing groups in State College, and in November I went to a monthly meeting as part of another group. Exciting and flourishing times for my pen. I am concentrating primarily on writing creative nonfiction in the first-person. True stories are what bring us together, offer hope, and help us understand each other.
The first local writing group I joined is Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Writer’s at Penn State. The group consists of roughly a dozen writers, all retirees in the area. I am an odd ball in the group, but I like to think they have embraced me. OLLI Writer’s meets once a month on Friday mornings, which suits my schedule because Lance is at Kindergarten and Vivian is at preschool. I have enjoyed getting feedback from seasoned writers who share life stories and poems. Most recently I submitted a revised version of An honest take on mental illness to the group. One of the best parts about OLLI Writer’s is that I found a mentor, a wonderful woman who knows WAY more than me and is not afraid to call me out if I am not being my most authentic self. She inspires me to dig a little deeper.
The second local writing group I joined is Mindful Moms Writing Group that is held on Tuesday mornings at The Makery, an arts and crafts studio that specializes in creative classes. Thanks to my good friend ‘Shawanda Dangerous’, who watches Vivian, I have met a group of women in my age range, all with young children and an interest in writing and mindfulness. I have written and read sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes all-over-the-place, and always vulnerable stories while sharing thoughts and listening to and learning from others in a supportive and creative environment. These mother’s — Anne, Carolyne, Katie, Abbey, Amy, Susan, Erica, Siri, and Amber — have enriched my life and given me new perspectives based on their experiences.
The November monthly (evening) meeting that I went to is also at The Makery. I hope to attend more meetings in the new year, where I will have the opportunity to read my stories and listen to others as we generate feedback for everyone in the group.
In addition to the writing groups, I took a five-week class over the summer with Creative Nonfiction Magazine called, Boot Camp. I enrolled in another class, 10-weeks, starting in January called Writing the Personal Essay.
So, yes, even though I have not been publishing much on my blog I am writing right along. I have been working hard to maintain a regular writing practice, especially long-hand journaling, letter writing, and online correspondence that continually helps develop me as a writer and thinker and someone who is trying to make sense of the world around me.
My #1 goal and job, above all of my writing aspirations, is to take care of Lance and Vivian as a stay-at-home-mom. Yet it sure has been nice to create a thriving writerly space in my life. A long-term goal is to write a book or collections of essays about my mental health struggles and how I have learned to manage being bipolar, but I am still sorting some things out in my mind that occurred during psychosis. I need more understanding and distance. For now, taking care of myself is the first step in taking care of my kids now that they are through the baby years. The writing will come. Readers, too, I hope.
Beyond motherhood, I am deeming 2017 all about continuing to write, share, listen, focus on meaningful relationships, LAUGH, and read books that inspire me.
Merry Christmas, and I thank you if you enjoy my writing and have an interest in reading what is to come.