Getting Back in the Writing Saddle

November 6, 2010

Summer was a busy, not-so-much writing time for many of our BLW members, as evidenced by the lack of posts on our blog. One member had a young granddaughter visit for several weeks, one member cuts, bales, and stacks hay every summer, one member helped move two children to new homes in different states, a few members own small businesses, several members have school-age kids out for the summer vacation, and for most of us, being outside while we have nice weather is when we make up for all those months of Wyoming winter.

Our fall here in northeastern Wyoming is extending beyond any I've seen in recent years. Even now, on November 5, we've had no snow to speak of, just a skiff one night, and then back to sunny, mostly warm weather. But while the nights are cold, and the wind is growing ever more so, I'm glad winter has been in no hurry to arrive.

Our BLW members got back in the writing saddle this fall, with a motel retreat for a few, some making a renewed commitment to personal blogs, more submissions being made, and all of us back to producing new work and editing through our files, with several new projects started, and one member learning she will be the cover story for a women's magazine next spring. Is that a WOW! or what? Triple WOW!!!, methinks.

November brings the annual Writer's Digest November Poem-a-Day (PAD) Chapbook Challenge, and a few BLW members are participating again this year. Poet and blogger Robert Lee Brewer posts a prompt each day, and then participants produce a poem based on the prompt. Or one prompted by the prompt. (Ha.) Individual interpretation of the prompt is encouraged, and sometimes a poet pushes the idea of the prompt way outside the lines, which makes reading the poems very interesting.

Poets can post their daily poems to the blog, or not, as they choose. I recognize many poets’ names from reading the blog last year; it is intriguing to see how the prompts work on the minds of other writers. I have chosen to post my poem drafts as one way to keep me accountable and writing, but also to see which poems prompt (!) someone to respond. Since the poems posted are mostly in the draft stage (though admittedly there are poems posted, by me and others, that read as pretty darn finished), they can still be used in contests and marketed for publication. From what I’ve read, most people in the industry do not consider work posted to a workshop-type blog as having been published. However, each writer must make that determination for him or her self.

During December, poets edit their work and create a 10-20 page chapbook of poems from the PAD challenge, which is then sent to Brewer as an email attachment by the January 5, 2011 deadline. He and his wife, poet Tammy Foster Brewer, will select one chapbook as the winner by February 2, Groundhog Day.

Last year, five BLW members participated in the daily writing, and three of us were able to work together in a couple of editing sessions, helping each other select poems to include in our chapbooks, then crafting and arranging those poems into a cohesive, readable whole. Much to my surprise and delight, my chapbook Wild Grace was selected by the Brewers as one of 21 finalists in the 2009 November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Nancy Posey won with her collection Let the Lady Speak; Posey is a participant again this year, too.

For those just reading about the chapbook challenge, it is not too late to join in. The link below will take you to the web pages containing all the information you need to begin “poeming” to a daily prompt.

As we move ever closer to winter, may your writing continue to spring forth, unfold, and flourish.

Jeanne Rogers

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Bearlodge Writers

PO Box 204

Sundance, WY 82729