Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Women's Writing Circle Year in Review

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. I envisioned myself as Margaret Mitchell of Gone With the Wind fame writing the next great American novel, hunched over my typewriter, sharing life as I knew it on the written page.

Fast forward fifty years and I achieved my dream thanks to PCs in the newsroom and my trusty Dell laptops, as well as the knowledge that writing resided in my blood and bones. While I may never have written that great American novel, my work, both as a journalist and an author, touches the lives of others even in a minuscule way and I am honored.

Along the writer's way I attained something never envisioned in those early years; becoming part of a dynamic writing community whose creative talents empowered me to continue forging a path of reminiscences, memories and ultimately the first tentative sketches that transform into stories.

Our Women's Writing Circle has evolved over the last seven years from four of us who met at a small independent bookstore called Wellington Square to a setting where literally hundreds of women found a place to "share their stories"; 2016 marked the first year in our new home, the conservatory meeting room of the Hilton Garden Inn. There we found the privacy - and dare I say? - elegance of our own writing space without prying eyes or casual listeners who wandered in as we read our most personal and private work.

Many women come and go and ours is a spirited group possessing tremendous energy and talent and a commitment to learning; our two critique sessions and our wonderful poetry workshop taught by Merril Smith filled our small room which holds fifteen to capacity.

From the Women's Writing Circle, I formed a philosophy of life; our daily lives are what we make it out of the broadcloth of creativity, compassion, empathy and humor . . . all of us connecting through a work of art that is often amazingly universal.

Where would we be in this world without a spiritually transcendent experience, even if only once a month? I thank the women who attended the Circle and those who "signed on" for another year of frankness and originality through the written word.

And to those writers who took the time to comment on our many blog posts, written by a diverse group of writers and authors, I offer gratitude.

Our most popular blog posts of 2016 were all on the topic of memoir: strategies for writing a memoir; reflecting on important relationships in memoir, and memoir as a healing journey. We averaged as many as 9,000 views a month on this blog.



In 2016 I appreciated the opportunity to teach both fiction and memoir to adults in the Philadelphia region, and will continue to do so in 2017. I learn as much as they.

This year also saw the publication of our second anthology The Life Unexpected. The women whose stories power this collection shone the "lamp of memory;" what Virginia Woolf describes as "the adventure and excitement of real life, turning that beam inwards and describing ourselves."

So, it is with great anticipation that I look to a new year of read around, critique and workshops in the conservatory meeting room. As we light the candle and ring the chime I - and I hope you - continue to explore together the never ending mysteries and gems of the writing life.

Happy New Year!  ~ Susan
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