I Do Good in This Neighborhood
Each week, I meet with Kat, my mentee and neighbor, for writing sessions fueled by Kat's enormous creative energy, lots of caffeine, and a shared passion for words. As a pair, we edit Kat's poems, talk about ideas for her next novel, and trade books and obscure vocabulary words. (She teaches me as much as I teach her!) In addition to our weekly meetings, we also meet for monthly workshops in a large, supportive community of all-women writers. As a proud member of the GWN community, I have planned and conducted writing workshops, encouraged teenage girls to overcome their jitters to read their work in public, and watched the enormous satisfaction these girls gain from being exposed to one another's work -- and I, in turn, have felt my own connection to writing strengthened by this sense of community. Tipped off by a blog, I first attended a GWN Chapters reading series and was amazed by the bravery, maturity, and sheer zest of these young ladies. They read poems they'd written about Harlem, sang songs about crushes on teachers, and told stories of loss so vivid they brought me to tears. I was hooked. GWN provides something I believe in strongly: a safe space for young women to express their voices and forge healthy relationships that span all ages, races, and genres. With my mentee, I've discovered the Brooklyn Art Library, wandered art galleries, and seen first-hand how writing is not just what we do; it's how we connect.
I believe, John Donne wrote, "no man is an island." As a writer, I struggled for years under the notion that creation was a solitary, lonely act. Volunteering has taught me otherwise. When I give my time and energy to mentoring, I see myself as part of a larger community. My own work is enriched from those around me, and the sense of excitement that comes from sharing what I love to do? It's a gift I am grateful for, and I'm happy to pass along that creative spark.