Ball State to host Midwest Writers Workshop
A workshop that has helped the careers of many authors will soon return to Ball State for its 44th year.
The Midwest Writers Workshop will be hosted July 20-22 at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. The mission behind this sold-out event is to give writers the opportunity showcase their work while networking with other writers and highly credentialed professionals.
During the four days, a series of sessions on writing for specific genres and classes like Pitching 101 and Conference 101 are offered.
The sessions are taught by authors on staff. All classes provide and opportunities for attendees sign up for one-on-one time with editors and agents to consult or show five pages of their manuscript for review.
“Writing is a very solitary effort, and as a writer you need to make connections and you need others,” Bigger said. “Coming to the workshop provides that. It provides an opportunity to network, to gather critique partners or just to sit and absorb information that will help you become a better writer.”
The MWW has impacted many writers careers, including Director Jama Kehoe Bigger, who has been involved with the workshop since she was 20-years-old. The Muncie native has strong roots in both the community and university.
While she was an English student at Ball State, Bigger wrote a Christian inspiration focused manuscript, using that as her master's thesis.
“As a teenager, I broke my neck and was diagnosed quadriplegic, so I wanted to write the story of my progress,” Bigger said.
A friend referred her to the MWW after hearing about her writing. This, Bigger said, is what started the chain reaction that got her manuscript published.
“I met some people at the workshop, over the next two years that were very instrumental in helping me with my manuscript,” she said.
Once she had finally finished writing, she sent her manuscript to an editor that she met through the workshop. He told her that while it was not what his company normally published, he hoped she wouldn’t mind that he had taken the liberty of sending it to one of the biggest Christian publishing houses at the time, Flemming H. Revell.
Bigger received a call that Flemming H. Revell was going to publish her manuscript, two weeks before her marriage.
“After it came out, the writers committee really wanted to support my writing and they asked if I would join the committee, which I did,” Bigger said.
She worked on as many projects as she could, including their registration and newsletter. The hard work paid off, as she was eventually promoted to director, a position that she has held for the past 15 years.
“I love it,” Bigger said. “It’s my passion to be a cheerleader, an encourager, for other writers. I receive so much satisfaction and joy from doing that.
"I’ve met tremendous people these last 40 years. It's a long time to be part of something, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love and believe in what we’re doing. It’s a real honor to be part of the workshop as the director.”
The MWW workshop began in 1973 under the sponsorship of the Journalism Department. From there, it moved to the English Department and became a separate nonprofit organization in the past year.
While still under the sponsorship of the Ball State English Department, the workshop continues to grow. Two years ago, the workshop outgrew the Alumni Center and was moved to the Student Center, its current location.
After being around for more than four decades, the workshop is becoming well-known among writers, and often authors will reach out asking to take part in it, Bigger said. The professional packed conference is a combination of writers who either ask to be on staff or are recommended by previous staff members.
“Not every author is a good teacher,” Bigger said. “We look for someone that can relay information to attendees, we look for someone with professionalism that’s friendly and hospitable and we look for people that have publishing credentials.”
This year, the staff is composed of many accomplished authors, editors, agents and industry experts along with several student volunteers.
For those unable to attend, MMW also offers online classes.