by Rosalyn Marhatta
Writers toil in the vineyard of words, often under a fluorescent sun, sitting at a laptop or holding a notebook, hypnotized by a blank page. We struggle to birth poems or essays or novels, mostly alone.
That aloneness can drive us to infuse our lives with grape products and salty crunches in plastic bags. We question the quality of our work with long bouts of procrastination and swatting flies. We think we’re brilliant. How can we know if our work is good or gobbledygook? How do we keep on writing?
The answer came to me by accident after I joined a writing group on Meetup.com. This poetry group held open mics and I felt compelled to come up with new material each month. In front of the microphone, I was the actress of my childhood dreams and had written my own lines. It was inebriating and I was writing more consistently.
I needed more though. I longed for critique. Did my poems have substance and song? Did I have something that others could relate to? Could I really get published?
First, I tried an online critique group but I had no idea about how to critique other’s poems and that endeavor withered. Then I found a local writing group that would critique my poems and I learned how to critique by listening to others’ comments. Each month, I compelled myself to write new poems to be critiqued. Having a critique group gave me accountability.
Still, being alone and writing was soul killing for me so I arranged with writer friends to meet at each other’s homes. We would write and encourage each other to keep plowing with words. My writing group established regular writing to prompts sessions in which we took turns leading and I got many decent first drafts to take home and revise. Even if I didn’t like the prompts provided, I created my own. I needed other bodies in the room to warm the air of creativity. I still do. My vineyard is full of other writers writing and I keep planting new poems.
Rosalyn Marhatta has been writing poetry since 2009 and participating in open mics which thrill her like dancing on the moon. She almost kissed a microphone once and frequently emcees the Writer’s Group of the Triad’s Third Sunday at Three program. She was selected by the NC Poetry Society to be mentored by Lynn Veach Sadler in the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series. She has poetry published in anthologies including Kakalak 2014 and Fire and Chocolate. Her work has appeared in Vox Poetica, Referential Magazine, Wild Goose Poetry Review, and Then and If.