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President: Bruce Taylor

Janette Lemme: Co-Vice President and Program Coordinator
Cold war history, Marriage & family

Goldie Silverman: Co-Vice President and Program Coordinator
Children’s author, Speaker

Jennifer McCord: Treasurer
Writer | Editor | Instructor | Publishing Consultant

Janet Park: Secretary

Marianne Gutteridge: Past President

SFL Committees

Janet Park: Dinner Reservations,

Roberta Trahan: Newsletter Editor

Susan Ashton: Membership Chair

Marianne Gutteridge: Directory

Janet Park: Membership

Janet Park: Newsletter Distribution

Message From The President

Words for this time, this place:“Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it . . . The basest of all things is to be afraid.” William Faulkner, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, December, l950.”And I have seen the Eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,/And, in short, I was afraid.” From, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Elliot”Confusion, indecision, fear; these are my weapons.” Adolf Hitler”We have met the enemy and he is us.” Pogo, (Walt Kelly)For the first time in a long, long time, I found myself staring at the computer screen, wondering just what I had to say about such an honor as being chosen to be President of the Seattle Free Lances. What? Me? At a loss for words? Since when? A fear of success? No. Failure? No. The Blank Page Syndrome? No. You know, I think it was this: too much to say. Where on earth do I begin? I guess I can say I am both amazed, delighted at being chosen to head such an organization as the Seattle Free Lances with its most stellar history and such writing and literary luminaries who are and have been in this group. . I never would have dreamed that this is where my writing would take me but certainly, as it has taken me to many other wonderful places and people, I can see how it could take me here as well. And such a delight! What joy and power creativity has! What gates open, what opportunities present themselves by knowing and accepting the fear of our mortality but acting on it fearlessly, with boldness, courage, grace and gratitude! And the universe opens and shows our place in the infinite hallway of history. Among the living, under the silent frost of stars, we are here, this time, this place, to give meaning to this life, this moment that we define as ourselves, to help make sense of this experience of being alive, human, this place, this time, now. What else is there to say? Yet, having said that, yes, yes, there are many things to talk about. . What does it mean to be creative? To write? Are we all now hell-bent to become celebrities and not only and “just” wordsmiths and artists trying to articulate our experiences in this time, this place? To tell stories about the wonder of the world in which we find ourselves? For, you know, in spite of the fear and the horrors around us, we must always remind ourselves that, yes, it truly is a wonderful and marvelous world in which we live and it is to our spiritual peril, as well as the detriment of the world, if we ignore that.We can avoid such a trap by honoring our connections with our past and present for this will enable those who come after us to also connect to their past which, ironically, is our future. To create such continuation and connection, Seattle Free Lances offers much.InformationWith technology changing how we write and new forms of technology constantly evolving, it means changes in the marketplace as well. We come together to discuss these changes, what they mean, how they impact us and our writing. And you can’t know all this easily if you are only a solo adventurer into these realms. Information shared is power: power to connect, power to pursue, to endure, to create, to inspire and be inspired, to hope, to ultimately, perhaps, as T.S. Elliot says, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, “dare disturb the universe.”Interaction comes with the adventure of writing, comes with the exploration and makes the usually solitary road of writing more bearable when, having information, we discover how to use it through the experience of others or that others find our experience helpful and of value to them.Inspiration comes with these connections. Inspiration keeps us going and we are inspired by others as. others are inspired by us. Sometimes we are the last to know just how much impact we have on others. But we do. We all do. And no one knows who, by something we say, a smile, a laugh, our enthusiasm, will be inspired to dare to hope, try, excel and so doing, watch with awe as their horizon of experience, beliefs, suddenly expands and takes them to lands hitherto undreamed, unimagined, unexplored as if the universe has smiled and said, “Such courage to come here hence dare to entertain possibilities. Well, welcome and have I got something to show you!”This is the gift of connection with the live presence of others: We cannot exist without connections, to ourselves, our place, this time, now, and with each other. We are hardwired to connect and in many, many ways it is the quality of the connection that, like the legendary Philosopher’s Stone, transforms us. This is what Julia Cameron talks about in her wonderful book, The Artist’s Way: how important it is to have a tribe of people in your court, on your side. This keeps us going and again, reminds us of that African proverb: “If you want to travel fast, travel by yourself. If you want to travel far, travel with others.”So, here’s to the Seattle Free Lances: may we all travel far! And continue to do so, for a long, long time. Traveling together here, in this time, this place, traveling boldly, our voices belonging here, celebrating life and our creativity–here, in this time, this place now.

Winner of the SFL PR contest
A Lonely, Vulnerable Commitment:
The Story of Seattle Free Lances

by J. Glenn Evans

Winner of the SFL PR contestA Lonely, Vulnerable Commitment:The Story of Seattle Free Lancesby J. Glenn Evans—In these times of erosion of our civil liberties and the imperial war-mongering there is reason to “tear at our collars and get red in the face.”—Arthur MillerTo write is a lonely vulnerable commitment. The writer is a witness to his or her times. In many countries the writer faces prosecution, imprisonment and possibly a worse fate when his or her opinions challenge those of religious or political rulers. But as citizens and as writers we take a stand for what we believe. As writers we subject ourselves to public humility if what we write does not fall into the common belief of our times. We stand disrobed by our words.Writers who stand disrobed the most by their words are the free lancers. They toil without the shelter and protection of a firm, without a regular salary and without legal protections. In the early years of the last century a small group of writers who hungered for companionship of the pen launched Seattle Free Lances. A woman made the first move. Mabel Harding, women’s club editor of The Seattle Times, suggested the idea of getting professional writers together to the P-I city editor, Kenneth Gilbert. He encouraged her to go for it.Harding invited a number of published professional writers in the area to attend a meeting at the Pembrook Hotel on Third Avenue near the county court house. Five people showed up: Richard E. Hays, a writer of vaudeville skits who later became drama editor of the Times; Frank Richardson Pierce, prolific creator of western stories; Kenneth Gilbert, city editor and creator of animal stories, who had just sold his first story to Short Story Magazine; Bill Hough, another writer of westerns, and Mabel Harding, who had also written a book on Mexico.At their second meeting on May 5, 1921 thirteen people showed up at Blanc’s Café. They initially called themselves the Northwest Writers’ Association, but then changed it to Seattle Free Lances. Harding suggested they keep it simple and informal, no bylaws, no minutes, but that soon changed. After a few meetings they asked Wally Bamber, a lawyer and editor, to leave the room. On his return he was handed the gavel and told ‘You’re the president.’ They recognized that the success of the organization depended on the value of associating with each other and making contacts with other writers who would come and share their ideas and experiences with the group. Boredom was the sole taboo. Boredom spelled the death of the organization and must be avoided at all costs. Fear of this taboo led to a rule against reading one’s own material before the group. By 1947 membership had grown to fifty or so, with many regular attendees, but some came just when they had something to share, once or twice a year. A low point came in WWII when attendance dropped to nine at one meeting. Restaurants often found it difficult to obtain meat. By 1972 the membership rose to sixty-five, with a majority of men.Seattle Free Lances is the oldest writer’s organization in the state and maybe the West. Prior to Seattle Free Lances, two earlier clubs started and faded like ink in the sun. The first effort to organize a writer’s group was in 1903. The minute book in the public library ended in 1909, but the group was believed to have existed until 1916. Another Seattle Writer’s Club lasted from 1931 to 1937.Early history of Seattle Free Lances was lost after a member in charge moved to California. Much credit for reassembling the early history goes to Lucile McDonald, who attended a meeting in 1937, and later joined in 1942. She became a distinguished historical writer. She cornered old members and documents and recorded the group’s history. Gladys Nelson, president in 1963, staged a meeting to honor old members. Armed with a tape recorder, she captured their memories.Past members have included Norman Reilly Raine, who wrote the original Tugboat Annie stories; Frank Pierce who sold over 1,000 fiction stories mainly to the Saturday Evening Post; Martha Ostense, author of Wild Swans; Jim Stevens of the Paul Bunyan stories; Jim Marshall, who became editor of Collier’s Magazine; Ron Hubbard of dianetics and scientology; Steward Holbrook, author of Holy Old Mackinaw; Betty MacDonald of The Egg and I fame; Elizabeth Julesberg, twice president of Seattle Free Lances, famed for her Dick and Jane series, but whose other books were considered as good or better. Other members, too many to mention, are authors whose names you would be familiar with if you heard them. They, too passed this way, shared the bread, comradeship and thoughts with fellow members, and left a legacy of written works.In past years Seattle Free Lances has played host to many famous featured speakers, such as Eugene O’Neill, Louis Bromfield and Carl Sandburg. More recently, featured speakers have included Eileen Grimes, author of Titanic Astrology; Robert Dugoni, author of The Cynaide Canary; Steve Lorton, senior editor from Sunset Magazine; and cartoonist Brian Basset.Key to the long life and success of Seattle Free Lances has been the fellowship of breaking bread, networking and making friends with other professional writers. Seattle Free Lances may be eighty-four years old, but still has the youth to kick up her heels and challenge old taboos. In this fast-paced age, it was discovered that many members had not the foggiest idea what other members wrote. They broke the old taboo and permitted members to read from their own stuff. Each meeting, now, one member reads a short piece from their work. One taboo they will not break—boredom. If the reading gets boring, out it goes.Today’s Seattle Free Lance members still take seriously their commitment to the word. When freedoms are being challenged, it is the writer who illuminates the future. He or she is blessed with the wisdom and imagination to point the light ahead. It’s a risk we bear as writers.

From The Past President

J. Glenn Evans

Thank you for the honor and opportunity to serve as your president this past year. It’s been a pleasure and I thank each of you for your hard work and support. We now have a fine new staff of experienced members to serve as your officers and board members.With its awesome past history, the Seattle Free Lances deserves the best from its members and officers who have a mission and the vision to carry the organization forward and to build on its accomplishments. We all benefit from networking, sharing our ideas and contacts with each other, and this is especially so as the organization continues to grow. If each of us will make it our business a couple of times a year to invite a new friend to join us for a meeting or two, that effort will help us grow. The more active members we have, the more there is to share.In today’s busy and mixed-up world full of conflict, and with so much muddled information going in all directions by self-seeking interests, we have a greater need for writers to turn their pens into swords to wage the war of truth. The experienced writers of Seattle Free Lances can be in the forefront of leadership. Let’s all get behind our new officers and give them our best support.SincerelyJ. Glenn EvansThe Lame Duck sings his SWAN SONG

Happy Birthday SFL — 84 Years and Counting
by Val Dumond

On a May evening in 1921 professional writers in Seattle decided to get to know each other. A couple of them sent out invitations to every other writer they knew to meet at Blanc’s Cafe, then sat in the lobby watching to see who showed up.About a dozen did. The group eventually named itself Seattle Free Lances and continued to meet once a month to have dinner and talk about writing. Those founders included leading editors of the Seattle Post- Intelligencer and Seattle Times, a minister who wrote children’s books, and some novelists and storytellers. Credited as organizers are Times women’s editor Mabel Harding, western writer Frank Richardson Pierce, and Kenneth Gilbert, P-I city editor. Gilbert became the first president. What is most remarkable about the group is that organizers decided on minimum rules — you had to have sold a book or articles nationally to become a member. SFL met on the first Tuesday of the month for dinner and talk about writing. It still does. (The rules are so minimal that a president was once elected without becoming a member.)Over the years the names of many members have become well-known — Betty MacDonald, Zola Helen Ross, Ron Hubbard, Willo Davis, Mary Cunningham, Ernest and Jo Norling, Elizabeth Julesberg, and …. They are gone now, and new famous names emerge as the organization they loved continues to meet — same time, same informality, same camaraderie and pride of making careers writing professionally. Lucile McDonald, award-winning historian and SFL member for 50 years, wrote shortly before her death in 1992, “I think we all agree that (SFL) has maintained this professional standard and it is what has kept the organization going for 70 years.” Well now, at 84 we’re considered the oldest ongoing writers’ group in the northwest, if not the country — and we’re still going.Happy Birthday to us!

History: Seattle Writers’ Groups Go Way Back
by Evelyn McKay Gibb

History: Seattle Writers’ Groups Go Way Backby Evelyn McKay GibbAs early as 1902, a few people in Seattle decided to get together to swap talk about their craft of writing. Meeting at the home of Thomas Eastlund, they satisfied a basic need of most writers: the companionship of other writers.These folks were not yet established writers, but they had begun to sell what they wrote. The group met regularly, until 1916, at Eastlund’s home, sharing secrets of the trade and thereby becoming the pioneer nucleus of the present day Seattle Free Lances organization. By 1921, this early group numbered about 17 members, and in May of that year, they decided to call themselves the Northwest Writers Association. In June of the same year, they changed the name to Free Lances.The beginning writer, in Seattle and most everywhere, is familiar with the advice given by those who already have stumbled down the same path: find a group of writers, hear and critique one another’s work, and network with them about the craft. This is sound, profitable advice. Writing is indeed a lonely profession, but there is comfort and encouragement to be found in the company of others who grope their way along this strange and fascinating route.”…self-doubt is the author’s constant companion…”Yet, what about these same people as they climb to the next level on this uphill journey called “a writing career?” When more and more time at the word processor or typewriter finally pays off with increasing numbers of acceptances along with rejections, where does the starting-to-sell writer go for regeneration, for indulging the need to talk writing? Or do non-beginner writers outgrow such needs? The answer, of course, is that some things never change: self-doubt is the author’s constant companion and the worry that all sales are flukes and only the rejections are valid seems to go with a writer’s territory. Only by talking together, discovering each is not alone in mood swings or in this fortunes-of-war profession, does the belief in the writer’s self grow stronger.Just such non-beginning, starting-to-sell writers were those pioneer authors who sat around Thomas Eastlund’s living room. Recognizing the need to gather together, they made the move to satisfy it.Lucile McDonald, a long-time member of Seattle Free Lances and a noted historian and children’s author, says proudly, “For all they know, the Free Lances may be the oldest writer’s club in the West. They have met continuously since those first days.”Requirements for membership in the Seattle Free Lances are the same today as in earlier times: national publication of three articles, or three short stories, or one book. Self-publishings or vanity publishings do not apply (Note: self-publishing has been accepted since 1995 for SFL membership).Because of these rigorous requirements for a writer to become a member of this organization and because she was keenly aware of the needs of all writers to associate with other writers, Lucille McDonald found time to help form additional writer’s groups in the Seattle area. In 1972, she and seven others started the Eastside Writers for the purpose of encouraging and informing less experienced writers. Membership in this organization now numbers 170 (Note: that organization no longer exists.)In addition, Lucile, Zola Helen Ross, and Ralph Potts brought to pass a writer’s conference for Seattle in 1955. The Pacific Northwest Writers Association would bring together writers, editors, and agents for a yearly exchange of information. Now, 32 conferences later, this organization boasts a membership of over 1,000 and enjoys annual conference attendance of 600 or more.The group Lucile feels she grew up in and helped her through many a difficult year will always be Seattle Free Lances. “In the early days of Seattle Free Lances, the minutes were kept in a neat little notebook that passed from one secretary to another,” she recalls. “But after 30 years, the secretary moved to California and we never got that little notebook back. We lost all that Free Lances history.”In 1963, the Free Lances organization, under the direction of its president, Gladys Nelson, assembled many of the early members for the purpose of recording their memories of the group’s history and the successes of its membership. Later, in 1972, Lucile McDonald used this information and her historian’s pen to put together a written history of the organization at that time celebrating its official 50th anniversary, one year late.The days of the Second World War were a major test for the Seattle Free Lances. Membership dwindled to nine. Lucille recalls times when the group nearly disbanded. Because of food rationing and a shortage of waitresses, they were often turned out of restaurants where they hoped to meet. At other times, attendance suffered severely. “Free Lances’ members are not your usual joiners,” Lucile reminds us. “Often they just don’t show up. Later they say there were too busy writing to come to the meetings.” But the Free Lances survived and by 1948, the membership grew to 55.Among the early members were James H. Stevens (chronicler of Paul Bunyan), Frank Richardson Pierce (author of many westerns), Betty MacDonald (author of The Egg and I), Reed Fulton, Norman Mansfield, Alice Maxwell, Bill Wordon, Murray Morgan, Elizabeth Ryder Montgomery (creator of the “Dick and Jane” series), and many others.The Seattle area now has many small groups of serious writers. Yet, the Seattle Free Lances still thrives and meets once each month at a restaurant on Lake Union’s waterfront. After dinner, members exchange news of sales and writing experiences before listening to their evening’s featured speaker.These authors recognize that selling what they write is not enough, just as did those people who met at Thomas Eastlund’s years ago. Equally important, they would all agree, is the stimulation received as they “talk writing” with one another.

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