After earning her 1985 BFA in creative writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Sally J. Walker founded the Nebraska Writers Workshop under the sponsorship of the Ralston Public Library. Interested people began meeting weekly on Wednesday evenings to discuss topics of interest in various areas of writing and to read from works-in-progress. Over the next three years the regular attendees chose to have brief, researched presentations by members in the areas of Poetry, Scripting for Stage and Film, and Fiction. Since it was a matter of "writers helping writers," no fee has ever been charged, but a minimal, weekly good will offering is collected to pay for the group's small expenses (like this website and the holiday party) with the balance donated to thank the library for their meeting space and support. A variety of writing professionals have added programming spice including an Oscar-winning film editor, a small publisher, a theatrical director, an actor, and a variety of topical experts.
From an irregular attendance of 3-5 writers, the around-the-calendar meetings grew to a minimum of 14 out of a roster of over 50. People attend as jobs, life and their writing allow. Members range in age from 14 in the teen group to 70's & 80's among the adults. Education levels are from high school grads to Master's in English. Over half of the membership is published or produced, yet every member comes to the table as EQUALS because each piece of writing is recognized as HARD WORK. For some, weekly attendance is an commitment to self-improvement, for others a habit of necessary motivation and peer camaraderie. Writing is a solitary endeavor, after all. NWW is a gathering of people who understand the trials and the joys of what we do. All come understanding they are there for incremental continuing education, industry updates and to help one another attain specific goals. Once committed to active membership (after the third visit), new people are invited to join the closed e-mail list serve for more regular, in-depth connections.
A cycle of social events provide variety to the gatherings including a party in April to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday and works, a June picnic with readings at the Ralston Park, the annual Fall weekend writing retreat, and a Holiday party in December where everyone reviews their year's writing accomplishments and sets goals for the coming year.
Other writing organizations represented in the membership include the Nebraska Writers Guild, Romance Writers of America (RWA), Western Writers of America (WWA), the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), the local Theater Arts Guild and the Omaha Film Festival. We also have members working toward membership in the Dramatist's Guild (playwriting), Writers Guild of America (screenwriting), Mystery Writers of America, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and the Horror Writers Association. Most of the poets are actively publishing and involved in readings in the area.
The common thread running through NWW is the members are seriously committed to succeeding in their craft through education and practice. One can only become a writer by writing . . .