Why I Write
By Sam Barbee
The early-mornings I am able to carve out some writing time, I pour my coffee, check the temperature outside, feed the dog, and eventually nestle into the chosen site (usually at my desk), and most every time experience a moment of panic . . .
Panic, you say? What if my muse is sleeping in? What if she shuts me out? What if this? What if that?
Even in those most-anxious moments, I take a breath and locate my center, many times by reading other poets. Seeing their words motivates and inspires me, helps me remember they, no doubt, also had empty and anxious moments with their writing. I take solace knowing we are a community, regardless of geography, or theology, or politics, or even century.
Regardless of time of day or writing schedule, a writer sits before that cold blank page, or an unsympathetic monitor for some, and sees his first word written out, or scrolling across; then the second; a phrase; the first sentence; the punctuation. Repeating the process, time after time, until they have an acceptable first draft; let me emphasize, except in the rarest of occasions, only a starting place for the writing process.
Then the work comes, draft after draft, rewrite after rewrite, the writing moves at its own pace. My genre is primarily poetry and some poems take years of revision, and then submission to friendly magazines, sometimes yielding rejection after rejection. It can be a solitary place.
That is why I have found it helpful – critical even – to join a writing group. If nothing more, just other writers to bounce my words off. I reveal my early draft to people I TRUST: competent writers and critics who have my best interests in mind. Some writers claim to not like or need a critique group – good for them – but I certainly find them invaluable.
Here in Winston-Salem, I have found Winston-Salem Writers (WSW) ripe with good writers and critiques, all who are supportive of my efforts. Their feedback is always positive and not aimed at beating up a fellow writer. I am a member of two WSW sponsored critique groups, one poetry, one fiction. And I would not trade them for anything. WSW also offers two open mic nights to members and nonmembers to read your work to friendly audiences. I invite you to sit in on one and see how they flow.
Whether you are just beginning to put pen to paper, or have been writing all your life, I recommend you check out Winston-Salem Writers and see all they have to offer. Start the New Year off on the “write” foot!
Sam Barbee is a local poet whose poems have appeared in numerous publications. His poem, “The Blood Watch,” received the 59th Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society. His first poetry collection was “Changes of Venue” (Mount Olive Press) and his second collection, “That Rain We Needed “(Press 53), published in April 2016, has been nominated for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of the best collections of 2016. Sam is the past president of Winston-Salem Writers and recently retired from the Winston-Salem Recreation Department.
For more information on Winston-Salem Writers, visit www.wswriters.org.
Winston-Salem Writers will present a series of workshops. “2017 Writing Resolutions: Kick Off the New Year on the Write Foot,” on three consecutive Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon at the Milton Rhodes Arts Center, 251 N. Spruce St., in downtown Winston-Salem.
Jan. 14, Dr. Lee Zacharias will speak on the art of personal essay.
Jan. 21, Charlie Lovett, a New York Times best selling novelist, will share ideas on character development and setting description within the novel.
Jan. 28, Pamela Henderson will guide attendees in the nitty gritty work of craft development and the importance of critique groups.
Each workshop is $15 for nonmembers and free to members of Winston-Salem Writers (You can join for $36 for the year!). To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org and note the session(s) you will be attending. Seating is limited.