History of the Maryland Writers' Association
The Maryland Writers’ Association started like so many other groups; one person has an idea and acts on it. In 1984, Irene Solovij got the urge to write and searched for other writers in Anne Arundel County. She met Susan Rivers at the Severna Park Public Library and the two decided to start a writers’ support group which began in September of 1985 in Irene’s living room. By December, the group had grown to twenty members and officially called itself The Writers’ Association of Anne Arundel County (TWAAAC).
In March of 1988, on the recommendation of several Past Presidents, TWAAAC agreed to change their name and gave birth to the Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA). From one regional club, the MWA has grown into a respected state-wide organization that hosts Maryland’s Annual Writers’ Conference, has chapters in seven counties, sponsors the Pen in Hand literary journal, and is supported by the Maryland State Arts Council.
The MWA (www.marylandwriters.org) is a voluntary, not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting Marylanders in the art, business, and craft of writing in all its forms. MWA strives to:
Austin Camacho, an early president, encouraged the organization to form regional chapters. In 2007, MWA Baltimore, the first chapter, was found by Paul Lagasse with the co-sponsorship of the CityLit Project and the Creative Alliance. Howard County’s chapter formed up about 6 months later.
- Bring together aspiring, emerging, and established writers of all genres and disciplines
- Serve as an information and networking resource
- Help members make contacts that lead to publication
- Encourage writers to reach their full potential, and
- Promote writing within Maryland communities
The two publications have been associated with MWA; the bi-monthly newsletter Pen In Hand, and Scribble, a creative journal. Pen In Hand (est. 2001) published information about MWA events, articles of interest to writers, and creative works. In 2017, Pen in Hand matured into a literary journal published twice a year that showcases MWA literary talent.
The MWA held its first annual writer’s conference in 1988 and has maintained the tradition of a spring unbroken to this year’s conference at the BWI Marriott in Baltimore, MD. The Annual Conference has been described as a year of monthly meetings packed into a single day with a keynote addresses and seminar topics fiction, non-fiction, various genres, and business concerns.
MWA's diverse membership ranges from professional freelancers and published authors, to writers aspiring to be published, and those who write as a creative outlet. Members produce both nonfiction and fiction, including novels, short stories, picture books, poetry, plays, scripts, speeches, feature articles, and essays. Some work in specific genres such as romance, science fiction, thriller, fantasy, children's literature, travel writing, or biography.
Most writers begin writing when they are very young, but somewhere along the way they are taught to believe they are not “qualified” to write. As a result, MWA members have a strong interest in encouraging and mentoring young writers. In 2009, MWA launched the Teen Writing Club program which partners with local libraries to provide a constructive, mentoring relationship for groups of 13-18 year olds who want to improve their writing skills. Led by a local MWA member and hosted by a local library, most clubs operate in a workshop format so that teens can share their writing and get feedback from their peers. Leaders offer guidance and advice, writing exercises, and constructive criticism. Libraries can contact Teen Club Coordinator Mark Willen at firstname.lastname@example.org about hosting a Teen Writing Club.
MWA is always open to new ideas and we welcome new members and volunteers who wish to launch new clubs or help with community efforts. Contact MWA at www.marylandwriters.org.