When she walks into the biweekly meeting of the Saugerties Writer’s Club fresh from work, Michelle DeCicco is bursting to share her news. Her poetry has been accepted as part of an upcoming exhibit at Emerge Gallery. Rebecca Crist, both the coordinator of the group and a writer herself, congratulates her. The two begin to talk about the process of writing.
Discussion of the trials, tribulations and successes of being a writer are standard at these meetings, which members sometimes refer to as “therapy nights.” On this night only two members are present. Usually, between three and five come to share and seek feedback on their work.
The work that is shared can vary from memoir to horror, historical fiction to haiku.
DeCicco says hearing the wide range of genres can be inspirational. She was encouraged to try haiku herself after another member read from her poetry. She says the members were constantly learning from each other.
Crist says members typically seek feedback on a particular area of the piece, such as whether the point of view works or whether they are too verbose. Bring one’s writing is not required. After working at a computer all day for her job, Crist understands that sitting down to write after getting home may not be the first thing on everyone’s mind.
Crist will sometime give the members a writing prompt. She occasionally sends a prompt with the meeting reminder, too. The prompts can be an idea, such as “cake for a dead woman,” or the beginning line of a story the members can complete, like “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.”
Crist says prompts help push writers out of their comfort zones.
The group has been around for approximately four years. Crist says they only allow members who are at least 18 years of age, due to occasional adult content. Writers do not need to commit to coming to every meeting, and they are welcome to belong to more than one such group. A few writers have attended the group in Saugerties as well as one in Woodstock. There are plans to move some of the meetings to online meet ups in the future.
The meetings take place at the Saugerties Public Library every first and third Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m, “We are always happy to have new folks join us,” Crist says.