Sheboygan County Writers’ Club marks 60th

by Jeff Pederson
of The Review staff


THE SHEBOYGAN COUNTY WRITERS’ CLUB hosted guest speaker Jeff Pederson, editor of The Sheboygan Falls News, at its April meeting. Pictured left to right are Linda Schmidt, Mike Popelka, John Sierpinski, Genevieve Beenen, President Linda Shimon, Jeff Pederson, SPOT and Steve Tupper. - Submitted photo THE SHEBOYGAN COUNTY WRITERS’ CLUB hosted guest speaker Jeff Pederson, editor of The Sheboygan Falls News, at its April meeting. Pictured left to right are Linda Schmidt, Mike Popelka, John Sierpinski, Genevieve Beenen, President Linda Shimon, Jeff Pederson, SPOT and Steve Tupper. - Submitted photo The art of the written word is one that is often overlooked in today’s high-tech, thrill-seeking, visual-oriented, computer-driven modern world.

On the local level, members of the Sheboygan County Writers’ Club have been dedicated to keeping the written word as vital and alive as it was when the organization formed 60 years ago in 1957.

“The Sheboygan County Writers’ Club was founded by a group of 10 avid writers,” Sheboygan County Writers’ Club Historian Carol Ehrenreich said. “Many of the original members also belonged to a state writers’ organization called the Wisconsin Regional Writers’ Association, which was formed by Robert Gard, a writing professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The Phillips Writers’ Club was already established as the first state writers’ club followed by Sheboygan County Writers’ Club as the second state club,” she said. “The Phillips Writers’ Club recently folded, so our club is now the oldest writers’ club in Wisconsin.”

The club’s first meeting was held on Feb, 28, 1957 and has met on a regular basis in the county for over six decades.

“In 1957, the club’s first meeting was held at the old Mead Public Library, which was then located on New York Avenue and Sixth Street in Sheboygan,” Ehrenreich said. “The club has met continuously in various locations in the county ever since.”

Over the years, the Sheboygan County Writers’ Club has welcomed over 400 interested local writers, who have specialized in a wide range of genres, including local and personal history, personal memoir, adult and juvenile poetry, book reviews, journalism, newspaper and magazine articles, lyrics for music, children’s fiction and non-fiction, adult fiction and non-fiction.

“One writer historian put the Franklin Haus on the map and another has had her research on the history of the Turner’s organization published in book form at the Mead Public Library,” Ehrenreich said. “The club has yielded many accomplished, published writers, who have shared, cultivated and refined their items at club meetings.

“We also occasionally host speakers, who give fresh insight into the current writing world,” she said.

In addition to club meetings where members gather to brainstorm, share and critique items, the club has also engaged in many outreach programs and events that have great impact on Sheboygan County.

“We’ve offered a middle school writing contest for several years with monetary incentives for first-, second- and third-place winners in several genres,” Ehrenreich said. “We also held open mike events, celebrating anniversary events, published a club booklet of membership submissions and in earlier years hosted the state Wisconsin Writers’ Association two-day conference held each year as a gathering of the state’s many writing clubs and speakers.”

Sheboygan County Writers’ Club President Linda Shimon often engages today’s club members in a variety of writing exercises.

“Over the last few years, Linda Shimon, our club president, has assigned a monthly optional writing assignment in 300 words or less on a particular subject,” Ehrenreich said. “Upon completion, this assignment is read aloud for comment from the group.”

Club members meet in Lucas Hall at First Congregational Church, located at 310 Bluff Ave. in Sheboygan, on the second Monday of each month from 1-3 p.m. The monthly meeting is replaced in December with an annual holiday luncheon.

“The meeting at First Congregational Church is our regular monthly meeting, which includes an overview of club business and occasionally includes a guest speaker,” Ehrenreich said. “At the regular monthly meetings, we introduce ourselves and genre, we go over new business, as well as the sales and treasurer’s report.

“We also read assignments, review optional manuscripts and network with each other,” she said.

An additional evening meeting is held at the Sheboygan Falls Memorial Library on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

“The Thursday night meeting features a smaller, more intimate setting to allow members to present their writings more fully and to give an opportunity for more in-depth editing, feedback and assistance,” Ehrenreich said. “Sometimes full or partial manuscripts are read at these meetings and offered up for discussion. Dues are $2 for each meeting.”

The club has developed a website to inform the public of the club’s outreach activities and update club members on other writing opportunities. It can be viewed at sheboyganwriters. wordpress.com.

Ehrenreich, who has been a member of the club since 1989, says membership has fluctuated widely over the years.

“Our membership has changed many times over the years,” Ehrenreich said. “At times, there were as many as 25 to 30 members and at other times as little as six to 12. Our outreach activities have also changed and evolved along with our membership.”

Ehrenreich, who is the second- longest standing member of the club behind Sylvia Bright Green, says writers of all genres are welcome in the club.

“Our club members specialize in several genres, including creative writing, non-fiction, essays, poetry and editing and many more,” Ehrenreich said. “Most people join for the opportunity to learn and get help and direction from other people that share a common interest in writing.

“The writings of each member are fascinating,” she said. “Many of them have published works and are quite accomplished writers, while others are relatively new and learning the craft of writing.”

For more information on how to join the club,contact Linda Shimon at lshimon1@charter.net or Carol Ehrenreich at 2cjehrenre@gmail.com or by attending one of the club’s regular meetings.


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