Where Boulder County’s writers connect for mutual success

By Kate Jonuska

 

As a hub of technological innovation, home to the University of Colorado Boulder and host to a vibrant arts community, Boulder County boasts a large population of writers of all stripes. Local technical writers support our innovators, marketing writers help launch our startups, and creative writers spin together memoirs, fiction, poetry and more. With a 30-year history in Boulder, the volunteer-led Boulder Writers Alliance (BWA) has supported and connected those writers, evolving along with the writing community.

“We’re trying to create as many opportunities as we can for writers to connect with other writers to get the help and advice they need,” says BWA president and author Rick Killian. He explains that in addition to running an email forum with job listings and the opportunity to swap experience, BWA hosts three educational programs and a social event each (non-COVID) year. Plus, ongoing BWA Meetups address more specific writing needs, such as their popular “Writers Who Read” book club, critique groups and marketing seminars.

“We’ve tried to be more open source,” says Killian. “If you join, we’re more than willing to let you use our Meetup to organize under our umbrella and help spread the word.”

Especially in challenging creative fields like writing, networking can change lives and careers. Through BWA, members have met their future editors and publishers, vetted one another’s contracts, and spread the word about each other’s successes. Local writer Caitlin Berve, for instance, joined BWA when she moved to Boulder for graduate school.

“I was desperate for connection with other writers,” says Berve, who now professionally edits under the company name Ignited Ink Writing and has published an award-winning book of short stories, “When Magic Calls.” She says, “The BWA gave me writing friends and mentors who encouraged me to start my editing business, gave me my first clients and supported my book. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

While fiction is a popular genre, BWA supports writers of all kinds—and there are more kinds than ever. “The internet has [enabled the creation of] more writing than has been done in the history of the planet,” says BWA’s vice president, Laura L.B. Border, who’s also a former professor and a poet. No longer do writers need to convince an agent or publisher of their worth to get an audience, and with more accessible avenues for sharing creative works, more folks than ever want to learn to write well. Whether their goal is a new 9-to-5 job or to pursue writing as a hobby, aspiring writers can all benefit from the experience of others. “We really want BWA to better connect and create the diverse Boulder writing community,” says Border.

Once mostly composed of tech writers, the organization now includes a variety of published and aspiring authors across genres, and BWA has evolved to meet the needs of that changing community. “We have three prongs: the social aspect, networking aspect and professional development aspect,” says Killian. “We’ve stayed true to those over time. The only thing that’s changed is in professional development, in that we’re teaching those skills to aspiring writers rather than for the workplace.”

Many locals might not be aware that so many writers live in the area, so the Boulder Writers Alliance remains committed to making sure all of Boulder’s diverse writers know about one another and have a place to connect.

“Our programs are always well attended. We’re always drawing in more people from the community,” Killian says, but as a volunteer-led and open-source organization, BWA is always looking for support and new members.

For more information about BWA and how to join, visit bwa.org.