Lake Superior Writers Changes Duluth’s Literary Arts Scene

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Felicia Schneiderhan feared that she would be reunited with her tribe when she moved to Duluth. Working as a freelance writer can be isolating, she said.

“To be with other people who understand what it is, who share the same struggles, the same joy and who feel joy for the job. I love this energy, ”she said.

Felicia Schneiderhan, local author and chair of the board of directors of Lake Superior Writers, speaks at a recent group meeting. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])

Schneiderhan soon founded Lake Superior Writers, a locally based nonprofit organization with about 200 members from as far north as Grand Marais to northern Wisconsin. The organization hosts writing groups, manuscript exchanges, workshops on poetry and fiction, and a monthly writers’ café all year round.

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“I was amazed at the number of writers working here, nationally published writers and people just starting out,” she said. “There is a huge community. … They don’t always know each other, so we really want to bring people together and give them resources.

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It started in the late 90s as a weekly writing group at The Depot. In 1998, they became a nonprofit and trained as Lake Superior writers, said Mara Hart, local author and member since inception.

They worked with grants from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, they formed special groups for dissertation, editing, mentoring, publishing. In 2006, they hosted the Great Northern Festival of Words with guest speaker Terry Gross from NPR’s “Fresh Air”.

Across town, LSW has helped create and promote places to read works other than poetry, and the group has made writing more visible and accessible here than it was 20 years ago. .

“We had our symphony, we had our musical morning. We had our ballet, we had our concert halls, and we had our art institute and our historical institute, ”Hart said. “But there was nothing really for writers that was a way to bind writers and encourage writing in Duluth.

“It was underserved, but I don’t think it’s now because of the Lake Superior writers.”

At first, they had “ambitious plans” to model LSW according to the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, but the core of the group has a similar mission. Today, they’re an important resource for writers in northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin of most genres, said Jim Perlman, former board member and owner of Holy Cow! Hurry.

He created the Duluth Poet Laureate Project when he was a member, and he said they appreciate what beginner and intermediate local writers need to do to be productive in the “risky business of being a writer”.

“To have the chance to develop a community of like-minded artists and writers and to offer each of us mutual support, self-respect and encouragement in the pursuit of our work – whether it is ‘trying to be a published author or to be a publisher or a teacher, writer, editor – it has become an essential part of the literary landscape, “he said.

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Felicia Schneiderhan (left) and Vickie Youngquist-Smith visiting at a recent Lake Superior Writers' Meeting.  (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Felicia Schneiderhan (left) and Vickie Youngquist-Smith visiting at a recent Lake Superior Writers’ Meeting. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])

Vickie Smith began writing after retiring two years ago. His short story “Tossed” won this category at last year’s LSW writing competition. In addition to the business side of writing, Smith discovered resources beyond the group – free library classes on editing, editing, children’s writing.

“You do it on your own, but it really helps to have a community of writers that you can ask questions, share ideas, get encouragement,” she said.

Membership is diverse – poets, short story writers, memoir, long-serving writers, and non-fiction creatives, genre fiction, mystery / thriller. Some write to pass it on to their families, but many want to know how to get their work published, Schneiderhan said.

“We had our symphony, we had our musical morning. We had our ballet, we had our concert halls, and we had our art institute and our historical institute. But there was nothing really for writers that was a way to bind writers and encourage writing in Duluth. “

“I already had three books when I started looking for other authors because it’s kind of a lonely business,” said Patty Jackson.

She recently moved to Duluth after leaving the Twin Cities, where she was a member of the Northern Lights Writers. She found LSW before moving and recently attended a National Novel Writing Month workshop at the Duluth Public Library.

“There is a lot to learn about self-publishing, marketing, and finding a publisher. It’s a big learning curve, and it’s a lot easier when you have friends. I want to make sure, now that I’m in Duluth, that I partner with a group of other writers who can help along the way, and I can help along the way, ”she said.

LSW welcomes writers wherever they are. “You will find your staff, and your staff doesn’t necessarily have to be at your specific level,” said Maddie Cohen.

Since arriving in 2016, Cohen has made friends and found freelance work through LSW, which she calls a community and organization. She has seen the group strengthen their online presence, launch a blog and podcast.

She’s now working on a collection of short stories in her writing group, and sharing your art comes with a certain vulnerability. “It turns into group therapy almost because people sort out how to present the written material. To do this, you really have to go deep.

She said there are novelists and amateurs, if you are interested in writing it will be a good choice.

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Lake Superior Writers member Vickie Youngquist-Smith applauds a speaker at a recent meeting.  (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Lake Superior Writers member Vickie Youngquist-Smith applauds a speaker at a recent meeting. (Steve Kuchera / [email protected])

The writers of Lake Superior have helped Schneiderhan through a difficult time. The editors did not accept his arguments. She realized that she couldn’t control what they were doing, but she could control the time she invested in her work and in serving others. “My way through this year of rejection was to help other writers,” she said. “Now I feel like I’m part of a literary community that greatly supports the work I do on my own. I don’t feel alone in it.

The author of “Newlyweds Afloat: Married Bliss and Mechanical Breakdowns While Living Aboard a Trawler” is now the chair of the board of directors of LSW, she is working on another novel as part of a scholarship from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Lake Superior Writers helped her organize her first writing workshop in Duluth when she moved here 10 years ago. It has helped her grow in her profession and feel more comfortable promoting her work.

“Writers, we can be so shy… It’s not bragging,” she said. “You want people to read your stuff. ”

What awaits LSW is their annual writing competition which kicks off in the New Year, and the search for a new office with construction underway in the Chamber of Commerce building. In addition, they aim to continue to provide the type of education that members want.

“(In Duluth) there is incredible access to nature and wilderness, and we have these incredible cultural resources,” Schneiderhan said. “Lake Superior writers can play a small role in helping to encourage this to a higher level.”

More information

lakesuperiorwriters.org

facebook.com/lakesuperiorwriters

Listen to the Lake Superior Writers podcast on Soundcloud, Google Play, and Apple’s podcast app.

If you are going to

What: Writers’ Café organized by the writers of Lake Superior

When: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 14

Or: Cafe Perk Place

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