Community as a Resource
Hi there, Area Six Pennwriters!
If you haven’t gotten an email from me by now, I’m happy to announce that I’ve volunteered to be the representative for our area, since we’ve been without one for a time. If all goes well, that will become official after the upcoming Pennwriters election, which you can vote in this month.
In reaching to members in Area Six and otherwise, one of the most prominent things I hear is how grateful everyone is for the sense of community that Pennwriters offers, where we as writers can turn to each other as a resource. It’s not so much links or materials that we’re looking for, but for kindred spirits who understand this often solitary and overwhelming journey, and make us feel we’re not alone. I hope everyone can get more immersed in Pennwriters as a community, because there’s no way to replace that bond with research materials. For that reason, we hope you can join us at the upcoming Pennwriters Conference – registration now open. Maybe I don’t get out enough (few of us do!), but I look forward to it all year.
I’ve gotten requests to list some of the different groups that members attend locally within Area Six, so more of us can convene in person. I’ll list some of the groups below which members have told me about, and once the spring conference takes place, I’ll look to organize an opportunity for a Writers Café or another event where we can get to get to know each other better and work on our projects together.
I’ve come across members in both the Reading and Montgomery County areas who are looking for critique partners. If you’re in either of those areas and would like to form a group or take on a partner, please contact me and I’ll connect the dots to see if we can get like-minded and “like-located” members together.
While we’re on the subject of critiques: Does anyone besides me find it irksome that we’re in one of the only professions where we just about beg for criticism? In a world where everyone has an opinion, and people in the typical workplace avoid criticism like The Black Plague, we writers relentlessly seek out critiques, input, and reviews of our beloved projects—with no guarantee whether the outcome will be cutting or kind.
This is a rough business.
Yet it’s absolutely required to produce our best work. We need each other, not just for community and support, but for honesty and analysis. So while we’re in the middle of this paradox, let’s be kind and constructive with each other, and let each other’s work breathe. Let’s also hold tight to our sense of self-worth through this whole weird appraisal process.
I love this clip of Kate Winslet for that reason. Feminism aside, in the face of critiques and reviews and rejection letters, it’s essential to keep moving forward. We must realize that anyone who has ever achieved their goals has heard no, you’re not good enough not just once, but on a regular basis. The only conclusion we can reach in that case is that we have to endure this message repeatedly if we expect to accomplish anything that requires the least bit of courage. So be proud. Because despite it all—maybe because of all of it—we’ll succeed.
And that is a beautiful business.
Feel free to contact me about possible critique groups. New members can take a look at the Critique Partner Match-Up link on the Pennwriters site to see if it might be helpful. And here are a few local writers groups within Area Six that members have told me they’ve found valuable*:
If you belong to a local group you’d like me to publicize here, pass it along.
Thanks for having me! Happy writing.
Suzanne Grieco Mattaboni
Pennwriters Area Six Representative
*Not an official Pennwriters endorsement, just passing along information from various members.