We held our first panel of the 2018-2019 conference season at the Haddon Heights Public Library, and it was an incredible and powerful event.  Six strong and talented women, who have not only stood up the worst of what life threw at them, but embraced it and turned it around to find inspiration and create things of beauty, shared their stories.  The impact on the audience (and this author) was palpable.

Elaine Paliatsas-Haughey

Cathy Colborn, the panel moderator, did a great job offering up thought-provoking questions, and adding insight of her own.  When talking about her structure for keeping the writers’ spirit going, even when things seem like they’re not working out, she suggests creating a list of goals – both short and long term – and working through those.  The dual list keeps you moving, because those shorter term, near-immediately achievable goals helps quiet that inner voice that so often crops up when there is no movement on the longer-term goals that might require more time and move slowly.  It’s how she stays inspired.

Eileen D’Angelo had a similar approach to submitting her work.  She creates a list of her dream ‘destinations’ for her poetry, and then submits something to all of them, sometimes 10 at a time.  When one rejection comes in, she immediately sends out another.  Not only does that keep you from pondering over that one rejection, but you’re reminded that there are nine other pieces out there, nine other possible victories.

Eileen D’Angelo

Lisa Lutwyche probably said it best when describing how important it is to stick to your work and keep putting stuff out there.  Lisa states ‘your voice is worth your perseverance.”  A beautiful, eloquent reminder that your story, your art is important.  You owe it to yourself to keep pushing and to never give up.

Lisa Lutwyche

When asked about what to say to a writer that may think about giving up, Kira Wells says it’s OK to take a break.  Because “if it’s what you are meant to do, it will call you back.”  She reminds us that “when the rejections roll in, and you convince yourself to give up, writing will be that lover across the sea…you’ll always come back to her.”

Kira “K.J.” Wells

Perhaps the most important aspect of the panel was the discussion of the importance of art in helping them deal with the cards they were dealt.  Whether it be reliving the  challenges of having to straddle two cultures as a first generation immigrant, as Ayesha Hamid does in her memoir The Borderland Between Worlds, remembering the fear and pain and frustration of having a heart transplant at the young age of fourteen, as Elaine Paliatsas-Haughey does in her emotional writing, having that avenue to share, to vent, sometimes to scream has been important to all our panelists.  As Eileen states, “We all have to get through this shit, because we have to.”  We have to find that spot where we can place the memories and the pain, and it’s ART that helps us get to that spot.

Ayesha Hamid

Thank you to all of our panelists and attendees who came out to share.  Check out the Scars and Tattoos: Our Story on our Skin page for more inspirational stories and our YouTube channel and Instagram page to see a video of our panel reading their powerful work.

Looking ahead, our next “PWC Presents” is Saturday, October 20th from 7:00 – 9:00 PM at Arcadia University, where we’ll be partnering with Humor Outcasts and discussing The Undying Romance between Humor and Horror.  Hope to see you there!