Boone Dryden is the co-founder of the Milwaukee Writers
Both novice and
seasoned writers, at one point or another, have what
Nobel-prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee calls the "bout with the
page." Itís that drought when the words canít find their
natural rhythm, or donít show up at all.
one of the issues a good writersí group can address, says J. Boone
Dryden, who, with Niki Robinson, co-founded the Milwaukee Writers
offers seminars, workshops and classes on topics of interest to those
who write for personal satisfaction, want to get their work published
or dream of penning the next blockbuster novel. Some need
encouragement and gentle critique, Dryden says. Most need practical,
a very solitary endeavor most of the time," Dryden says,
"but I think being with a group of creative individuals allows
you to expand your opinion of your writing, other writing, and sort of
feed off the creative juices of other people."
Writers Workshop has two groups at the moment. A group based at
UW-Milwaukee, Dryden says, consists primarily of college-aged writers,
and the Ozaukee County workshop attracts a mature band of writers who
enjoy writing memoir. Few participants consider themselves full-time
"In the six
years that Iíve run (the workshop), weíve had maybe three creative
writing or journalism students," Dryden says. "Weíve had
everything from retired architects to Milwaukee police officers.
Writing is important to them, but they just donít know how to go
he notes, it pays to establish relationships with fellow writers as
well as editors, agents and representatives of smaller presses. Today,
the large publishing houses do not want to take risks, and are more
inclined to buy manuscripts that promise to be sure commercial
winners. First-time authors will likely have better luck approaching
smaller publishers that specialize in particular genres.
One way to
connect with people who can share the benefit of their experience is
to attend a writersí conference. For the past several years, the
Milwaukee Writers Workshop has organized a free conference called
WriteCamp. This yearís all-day event is scheduled for May 19 at the
Hide House in Bay View.
behind it is very ad hoc," Dryden says. Local authors, poets,
editors, journalists, bookstore owners and coaches offer free poster
sessions on topics like ghostwriting and publishing trends.
out way better than I thought a bunch of writers would be able to
do," Dryden says. "Itís a fun, big event and we really try
to pull in as much of the community as possible."
Dryden will be
hosting a session, too. Although he describes himself as a
"mostly a short story guy," has been published online and
has edited anthologies, he is currently working on a novel to go with
a role-playing game, or RPG. With a degree in creative writing from
UW-Milwaukee, Dryden says his studies focused on the classics, but he
is a "big fan of H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley and dystopian
And, like the
participants in Milwaukee Writers Workshop, Dryden has a day job that
has little to do with writing, but, he says, affords him the time and
flexibility to pursue his craft.
Your Group On
groups in the area offer workshops, roundtables and critiques
for aspiring and experienced writers:
workshops, critiques and an annual free writers conference. For
more information on the conference, scheduled for May 19, visit
roundtable critique groups, networking, opportunities to read
work at special events, classes for young writers. Founded by
Judy Bridges, author of "Shut Up and Write."
group of writers who share writing, publishing and marketing
tips. Editing and critique groups, workshops and the opportunity
to appear on "Meet the Author" cable TV talk show.
Writersí Workplace and Workshopallwriters.org
group offers online and onsite classes, workshops, intensive
coaching, professional editing and writing contests.
"Celebrity Saturdays" offer the opportunity to meet
and learn from successful authors.
Milwaukee group offers a series of programs for language artists
from high school to adult.