Confession: I found Detroit Working Writers on accident. “Found” isn’t even the right word. A colleague of mine passed me an entry form for the annual writing contest and encouraged me to submit some of my work. This was in early 2015, shortly after completing my MFA manuscript that would later become my memoir, REALIZING RIVER CITY. I had made a recommitment to writing two years prior and felt both accomplished with my productivity and isolated from spending so much time in the writer’s chair. I had a growing network of fellow writers on social media but no connection to those in my Detroit area community.
The writing contest—along with all the other programming provided by DWW—came with a discounted fee if I joined the organization. “Why not?” I thought. I put together my application packet to be an Established Writer and mailed it in. I received an email a few weeks later approving my application and a welcome kit in the mail a few days after that. Then I submitted my work to the contest and decided to attend the conference that year, too. Then I went back to writing and didn’t think much about what “membership” meant to me.
At the conference, I mostly kept to myself while filling a notebook with ideas gathered during the sessions. This had more to do with my introversion and inherent shyness than anything else as the other members were kind, welcoming, and did their best to engage me in conversation. The award winners were announced at the end of the day, and I was stunned to be presented with both First Place and Second Place in the Creative Nonfiction category, a humbling honor that came with award certificates and cash prizes.
The conference is DWW’s flagship event, bringing together writers of all genres, levels, backgrounds, and interests to support and inspire one another. Workshop sessions are designed for writers to learn from and engage with the facilitator and each other. The conference is a one-day event with an affordable registration fee and is open to all writers, whether they are members or not.
However, a discounted registration fee for the conference and writing competitions are not the only—or even the most significant—benefits of membership. The organization offers workshops almost monthly, a mentorship program, critique group, social gatherings, resources, and an archived collection of writing and memorabilia at the Detroit Public Library. Members can serve on committees, attend or facilitate workshops, attend meetings, be featured on the website and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and contribute to the blog, among other benefits.
Perhaps what makes DWW unique from other writing organizations is the tiered membership levels. Writers can apply to be Established Writers if they meet the publication requirements threshold. If you’re a new writer or still working toward publication, we welcome you as an Emerging Writer. We also have a membership opportunity called Student Writer for full-time college and high school students.
DWW has a rich and well-established history. Founded in 1900, it has evolved from Detroit Women Writers into the organization that it is today: inviting, inclusive, supportive, affordable, non-competitive, and enlightening. Not only have I made connections with other authors through Detroit Working Writers, I have made some great friends. We share a passion for writing and publishing, but we also appreciate each other as unique individuals. I have learned so much from them and am a better person because they are in my life.
Membership applications for 2017 are accepted through May 15. The application form and instructions can be found here: http://www.detworkingwriters.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/DWW-Membership-Application_0916.pdf
On behalf of the current members, I would love to have you join us!
An Established Member of Detroit Working Writers since 2015, Melissa Grunow is the author of Realizing River City (Tumbleweed Books, 2016) which won Second Place-Nonfiction in the 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, The Nervous Breakdown, New Plains Review, and Blue Lyra Review, among many others. Her essays have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and listed in the Best American Essays 2016 notables. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction with distinction from National University. Visit her website at www.melissagrunow.com or follow her on Twitter @melgrunow.