A Note from MWC Executive Director Ryan Collins: MWC will move forward with major programs in a virtual format if in-person events are not possible due to COVID-19

Dear Friends of MWC,

I hope you are well and staying safe. I wanted to send an update to you about what the Midwest Writing Center is doing during this strange and difficult time.

We are fortunate to be in a position where many of our programs can still be offered in a virtual or distance learning format, and so I am grateful and happy to say that the bulk of our programming will be continued as planned, with some modifications. In fact, we are adding to our existing program schedule in an effort to help supplement all the teachers, students, and parents working to continue the school year from home. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening at MWC: 

David R. Collins Writers’ Conference: While we have not yet received official confirmation from St. Ambrose University about the possibility of having the Conference in-person, we are already planning to have it virtually if in-person is not an option. After consulting with the faculty, our plan to hold classes at their scheduled times on June 25-27. Class meetings will be held via private Zoom meetings, and MWC staff will work with students and faculty to utilize Google applications for file sharing, posting assignments, group discussion, etc. The free public events will also be held at their regularly scheduled times, and will be available via livestream. We are also planning a “virtual book fair” on June 27, and pitches and 1-on-1 critiques will be scheduled between students and instructors in advance.

We understand that this move, should we have to make it, will be more challenging for some students than others. We are working on ways we can help Conference participants get access and familiarity with this new format in advance of the first day. If you are new to video conferencing, if internet access is an issue, please contact us and let us know—we will do whatever we can to help make participation and easy and comfortable as possible. We will continue to offer scholarships to students, veterans, and those with financial need.

Young Emerging Writers Summer Internship Program: As with the Writers’ Conference, our plan for YEW 2020 is to move forward—either in-person or virtually. If we end up moving to a distance learning setting, we will meet in private groups online (via Zoom or another distance learning format). We are still planning to have public virtual events, and are working on some special guests visiting writers and other ways we can use this new format to our advantage and help our interns not only grow creatively and professionally, but to shine more light on the work they’ll be producing at such a unique moment in our lives and our history.

If you are interested in applying, but have concerns about internet or computer access, please contact us—we want to see lots of applications and we will work with all of our interns to make sure they have what they need to participate.

Great River Writers Retreat: We are moving forward with this year’s contest; the Benet House has yet to make a determination about when they will re-open to hosting guests and groups. So our plan is to work with the winner of the 2020 contest and the Benet House to find a time where they can safely host the winner at a time that works for everyone’s schedules—even if that means we have to wait until 2021. Please let us know if you have questions, and we will look forward to reading your applications

Writer’s Block E-Magazine: We’re going to extend the deadline through the end of April, in the hopes that we might get more tributes to Richard “Dick” Stahl to include. If you’re interested in submitting, please check out the guidelines and send them our way.

Writer’s Studio and Young Emerging Writers Studio: We have set up private groups for both Writer’s Studio and YEW Studio on Facebook, open to regular attendees of both groups hosted by MWC, and open to any other MWC members, patrons, and QC writers looking to share their work in a constructive environment. Visit the groups and ask to join: 
Writer’s Studio Private Group  Young Writer’s Studio Private Group

New Program: Write More Light—Live! We are hosting live “write-ins” on our Facebook page twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 1pm CST. For now, I’m hosting the hour-long events to start, but I look forward to being joined by other local writers and educators soon (if you are interested in participating in an episode as a contributor or guest host, please contact us!).

The events are intended to be an opportunity to connect through writing while so many people are at home, and offer a supplement those who are distance learning during the response to COVID-19.

Each hour-long session will include some guided freewriting, some reading, and a brief writing prompt. The rest of the time, I’m available for any questions from students, teachers, parents about school work or assignments they might have, or for people to share some of their work. We’re thinking of these sessions as something like “a livestream writing consultant service with some built-in writing activities.”

Students and teachers are encouraged to send questions/comments in advance, and the Center is happy to work with specific schools and classes to expand these outreach efforts. Ideas for topics, writing prompts, and other content are welcome, as are queries from possible hosts.

Finally, for all the teachers, students, and parents continuing school from a distance right now, we are here for you. If you are working on writing/reading assignments, language arts, literature or composition classes, let us know how we can help—we’re always happy to help educators and students in any way we can. We have some online learning resources linked at our website and we’ll be adding more resources as we find them and receive your recommendations.

We look forward to hearing from you, to see what your writing, and to coming together in our appreciation of the written word at a distance. Please take care and stay safe…

All best,
Ryan Collins