The joy of finding a writing community

Deanna-MascleMt. Sterling writer and writing teacher Deanna Mascle is not a Kentucky native, but in her more than two decades living in the bluegrass state, she has found a community of writers that inspires her. This blog post is part of a celebration of Kentucky Writers’ Day, 6-7 p.m. April 24 at Spalding University Library in Louisville.

I am a writer. That’s my superpower. Through the magic of writing my ideas are transported across space and time and through the alchemy of writing, my words change the world by inspiring thoughts and deeds. Even before I recognized writing as a superpower that connects us to ourselves, to others, and to our world, all I ever wanted to be was a writer which is why my professional career has moved from journalist to editor, from novelist to writing teacher, and, yet, in every incarnation it has been a celebration of the written word, because first and last I am a writer.

From B.A. to Ph.D., my entire education has centered around the study and production of the art and practice of writing and my entire professional career has been devoted to writing. Both have taught me three essential truths about being a writer:

  1. To be a writer one needs to write
  2. To be a better writer one needs to read as well as write
  3. To be the best writer one can be requires both writing and reading within a community of writers

My life, my education, and my career began in a small upstate New York farming community, but it has been in Kentucky where I have found my writing home. I have found members of my writing family at the Kentucky Romance Writers of America, the Kentucky Press Association, the Kentucky Philological Association and the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English. However, it was my introduction to the Morehead Writing Project (an affiliate of the Kentucky Writing Project in case you thought I broke the pattern), that allowed me to truly find my people. It has been through National Writing Project work at home in Morehead and at Kentucky Writing Project events as well as national events (held both in person and virtually) where I have found inspiration and voice. The Morehead Writing Project has made me a better writer and the Morehead Writing Project has made me a better teacher of writers. Even more essential it has brought an active, vibrant community of writers into my life to share their gifts.

I am one of the lucky few who get to live their dream. I spend my days with other writers. Even as I write these words I am preparing to meet with 100 teen writers on the campus of Morehead State to spend the day writing and sharing our words. Yesterday I worked with teachers to plan our summer programs to support young writers from kindergarten through high school. Next week I will gather with adult writers at the Kentucky Folk Art Center for a writing retreat. Every day I work with Morehead State University students using writing to grow as professionals and humans. While often my days are filled with administrivia and the drudgery of paperwork, I am sustained by the joy of the writing community I found in eastern Kentucky. While that community has expanded to span the globe, it remains firmly rooted in the hills. I am a writer. I have always been a writer, but it is my writing community that made me the writer I am today.

Deanna Mascle teaches writers and writing teachers both in person and online, directs the Morehead Writing Project, and runs the Writing Studio at Morehead State University. She writes about and researches writing pedagogy and teaching with technology. She Tweets, blogs and posts to Google+ about all these things (as well as posts memes on these topics to Instagram). You can check out her curated collections on ScoopIt to learn more about what interests her about writing and learning.

 

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