Q. What are your memories of how Women Who Write came about?
A. Originally I was with a group called The Mendham Poets, which met regularly in the Mendham Borough Library. When the founder of Mendham Poets moved to Texas, the group ended, so I was looking for a writing group. Around 1986 I noticed an ad in the local paper inviting mothers to attend a meeting of Mothers Who Write. Victoria Fann, who had been living in the Midwest, had recently relocated back to her hometown in New Jersey. She had previously established a Mothers Who Write group in the Midwest, and so decided to set up a similar group here in Morris County.
The early meetings were held in Morristown on the top floor of Victoria’s office. There were no chairs, just lots of pillows to sit on. At those early meetings we talked about creative writing—about six women were there. As the group grew, we then moved to Victoria’s mother’s home. We shared, read, and discussed our writing. Rules developed as we went along; one rule was “no journaling.” We were to work toward crafted writing.
Dolores Rems was also there in the beginning. Eventually the meetings moved to Dolores’ home in Morristown on Saturday mornings. As the group grew, the meetings moved to Mountain Lakes and Denville.
Q. How did the concept of separate writing groups develop?
A. As the group grew in size, several women wanted to start a separate group for writing novels. Before that, our group was Mixed Genre—it included poetry, children’s writing, and prose.
Q. How did Mothers Who Write develop into a more formal organization?
A. The members of Mothers Who Write wanted the group to incorporate and become a non-profit; this was about 1987. One of the group, Janice Bultman, contacted a non-profit volunteer attorney, and the group began to create by-laws around Janice’s kitchen table. By 1988 the group had changed its name to Women Who Write. Around this time, the Mixed Genre group began to meet at the Chatham Public Library, where we met for many years. By then, there were several additional writing groups.
Q.: Were there any other activities besides the writing groups?
A. Several of these early members were also teachers, so the organization started offering writing classes at the Unitarian Fellowship in Morristown and later through the Madison-Chatham Adult School. The group also had social events, such as Christmas parties. Soon after the founding of Women Who Write, Goldfinch, our literary journal, and Writers’ Notes, our newsletter, began to be published.
Q. How long have you coordinated the Mixed Genre Group?
A. Maybe twenty plus years. Over the years, I have met many writers. They come and go; some leave for a specific genre group, and others find they are too busy with career and family.
I have also served on the WWW Board as Secretary and as Trustee.
Q. What do you see as the major benefit of being a member of Women Who Write?
A. It is a resource for women writers. I hope Women Who Write always keeps that mission going and remains dedicated to the organization’s original purpose.
Thank you, Mary Lee, for sharing your memories with members of Women Who Write.