Kelsey Timmerman, a member of the MWW committee, is the author of two books, and the co-founder of The Facing Project, which seeks to connect people through stories to strengthen community. He met his agent at our summer conference in 2007. You can follow his global writing adventures at his blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
I’ve been a committee member of the Midwest Writers Workshop since 2010. I know what you’re thinking: He does it for the groupies and the money.
After all, my boxer shorts have their own Facebook page made by a MWW attendee. But minus my underwear’s 32 virtual fans, alas, there are no groupies.
As for cold hard cash, I and the other committee members are volunteers. We typically meet at least once per month for at least 90 minutes to plan the summer workshop, mini-workshops, and other events. I’m guessing that each of us puts in at least 40+ hours of work each year. If you factor in the hours Jama, our director, works, that number averages out to about 4,000 hours annually. Some of our members drive hours to attend the monthly meetings, others leave work early, and I even put on pants and brush my teeth.
I’m exaggerating a bit. I wear pants and brush my teeth every day. But here’s the thing…I don’t have to. That’s right, I don’t have to go to an office every day. I could live a pants-optional life at home, all thanks to the committee members before me.
In 2007, I attended MWW and I met the agent who sold my first book Where Am I Wearing? That book led to another book Where Am I Eating? Now, between writing and speaking about my writing, I have a full-blown career.
I admit, I think I may have joined the committee to repay this debt, but I soon realized that the members of the committee were driven by much more than a sense of duty. There is something amazing about being a part of the stories of other writers as they seek and succeed at the writing life.
We get emails on a regular basis from folks who’ve seen their writing dreams come true, and credit MWW for helping them. It’s not even the thanks that we do it for.
I think the best thing I can compare the reward of being on the committee to is teaching my daughter to ride a bike, which I did (for the win) on Father’s Day this past year. She never thanked me. She never needed to. Watching her navigate our street through puddles, around potholes, and find that balance and pleasure that comes from reaching her goal was thanks enough.
There are plenty of puddles and potholes on the written road. Just keep pedaling. This is what makes those times when we don’t fall on our face so rewarding.
2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the Midwest Writers’ Workshop, but we are always looking for new ways to help writers. That’s why this blog is about to change.
You are about to see a lot more of us — members of the committee — here. We are poets, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, freelancers, and professors. We write for profession and passion. I’m honored to be on the committee with these folks and I’m eager to read their posts about their writing lives, what happens behind the scenes of our conference, and their tips of the trade.
I think I speak for the entire committee when I say we all want you to write, write better, and enjoy writing more.
I speak for myself when I say, I want you to have a pants-optional life.
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