April Writer’s Enrichment

Are you a lake or a river?

On April 13, 2024, the Writer’s enrichment in celebration of National Poetry Month revolved around imagery. Vice President Sharon Krasny introduced us to the concept – Are you a lake or a river? With notepads in hand, we took the first step: seeking the words that defined each one.

A lake.
Peaceful, calm.
Has a sense of location, a permanence.
Reflects sun and moon.
If it remains too still, can become stagnant, choked with algae.
A storm can send waves high and choppy and dangerous, but it always returns to its shores.
Dark, deep, from its warm welcoming surface to its colder, deadly depths.

A river.
Tumbling, searching, always in motion.
Glancing at the landscape as it passes, hurrying to a new place.
Creates brief stillness near the shore.
It stays clear and clean as it's cut by rocks.
Narrow, held in by its banks, controlled.
Carrying good things to me.

Later, we took on the personification of lake or river, writing of watery selves. Some wrote of the lake’s welcome of birds and other wildlife, of the rush of energy as a person dives in. Some of the darkness at the heart of the lake, so cold and mysterious compared to the warm, sparkling surface. Others imagined rushing along with the river, tasting the soil on the riverbanks, always looking ahead.

After sharing single lines or images from our writing, Sharon posted the words and we took them all in, gathering the images and thoughts of each of the writers to finally put together a poem.

It was a perfect metaphor for the writer’s life. How we gather insight and inspiration from the world around us, from nature, and, most especially, from each other. Whatever the outcome – poetry, prose, a single line, or a shared thought – we were connected, sharing this strange thing called writing, giving and receiving feedback and warmth as we encouraged one another. 

Thank you to all who joined us and to Sharon for her inspiration! We hope you’ll join us next time!

2024 Writing Goals

We’ve all been to workshops that teach us how to submit our work, even where to submit our work, but very few one- or even two-day workshops can help us decide WHAT to submit or help us hone and polish our writing so that, when we submit it, it is in the best shape it can be.

This year, Write by the Rails will be dedicating its monthly Writers Enrichments and our new Spring Workshop to helping our members craft stories, poems, and pieces that we can, with confidence, submit to journals and anthologies. In January and February, we will focus on inspiring new poems and stories, exploring new POVs, and new forms of poetry. At each enrichment, there will be time for a few members to share their work – or a snippet of it – to get others’ reactions and suggestions. Our Spring Workshop will be filled with presentations designed to help you edit your work, give you tips for tightening your dialogue and structure, and will include a dedicated time for our members to speak their words out loud, which is a vital part of editing.

We’d love to help our members increase their writing portfolios, to build up their files of poems, stories, and other writing pieces so that when an opportunity for submission presents itself, we aren’t found scrambling. Hurriedly writing something to meet the submission guidelines, quickly jotting something down to present to a journal or a contest often doesn’t shine a spotlight on our best work.

And we will have opportunities to submit! Our parent organization, Virginia Writers Club, allows submissions to its journal every spring – wouldn’t it be great to already have a finished, polished piece to submit when that deadline rolls around next March? The VWC also holds their Golden Nib Contest every year. This year, you could have a poem, story, or prose piece edited and ready to submit to that contest without the usual panic we tend to feel when we see the announcement. (WbtR encourages you to become a member of VWC so that you can submit. It costs very little and opens up a world of opportunities!)
Write by the Rails will also be compiling a members’ anthology this fall. Imagine seeing the announcement for open submissions, opening your portfolio, and having to decide between already finished and edited pieces!

We hope you’ll join us on this year-long quest to fill your writing files with pieces that have been written, edited, and shined up for submission. If you have a suggestion about a workshop that could help us attain that goal, please let us know at [email protected].