By Steve Sears
Karen Cerreta, Roxbury Township Public Library Programming Coordinator, recalls the day she was approached by a local woman who wanted to start a writer’s group.
“When I sat down with Rosemary (Szablewicz) at the library and she brought her idea to me,” Ceretta recalls, “she said she wanted a place where people who love to write could come together to inspire each other, to work on some writing prompts, to critique in a helpful, friendly way, and to talk about what are the next steps in getting published or doing things to be able to explore that a little bit more.”
Cerreta thought the idea wonderful and born was Write On: Roxbury Writers’ Workshop, the caveat being that it be a volunteer-led effort. “And she (Szablewicz) agreed to take it on, very generously,” Cerreta says.
That discussion was in 2019, and the group recently presented their first virtual reading on Wednesday, October 28. Pre-COVID-19, the group was meeting at the library. Since March, all monthly get togethers are ZOOM based.
“We had a whole idea of how we would do it in the library,” says Szablewicz. “But then, COVID-19 came along and that turned everybody upside down, inside out, topsy-turvy, and we decided to do ZOOM. Quite frankly, it seems to have turned out very well.”
Five writers took part in the reading, which was attended virtually by over 20 people.
Szablewicz, who has been writing for many years and is published in many magazines and newspapers, is also the moderator for the Mount Arlington Public Library Writer’s Forum, and the Nolan’s Ridge community writer’s group where she resides. “We’ve (the Roxbury Writers’ Workshop) been meeting for over a year, and we’ve had people come and go.” There are 6 regular members, and at the end of each meeting, Szablewicz gives them assignments to work on for the next meeting. “I always say, ‘You don’t have to do it. You can just sit there and gently critique.’ And that’s what they do. I give them 10-minute prompts to get the creative juices flowing, and we each read out loud. We do very gentle critiquing; we don’t make anybody cry or feel badly, because we all are some type of writer. We’re just there to encourage and support one another.”
“We are thrilled to be able to bring our neighbors who are interested in writing to explore this on a community level,” says Cerreta, “with the sharing of ideas and being able to support each other. This is not a group that knocks each other down. This is a group that lifts each other up. The library is all about continuous learning, no matter whether you’re a child, a teen, a millennial, or a senior, or somewhere in between. We want everyone to feel that they have a place to learn at the library, and the Roxbury Writers’ Workshop does just that for people who are interested in writing, and want to be supported in a way that might help them come out of their shell a little bit.”
The Roxbury Township Public Library is located at 103 Main Street in Succasunna. Visit roxburylibrary.org.