LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD
In 1958 six creative writing students from the Skagit Valley College—Molly Dawdle, Marilyn Johnson, Florence Logsdon, Gladys McCune, Junia Palmer, and Pat Talbert—formed a group to share their work, provide each other with constructive critiques, and exchange information about markets.They met once a month at Marilyn Johnson’s home. As word spread, other writers, including several men, joined the group, and they began meeting at the Mount Vernon Library.
Ken Fenske, a published author of children’s stories, poems, and short stories, joined the League in its early days. He brought the experiences of working as a concert pianist/organist, music teacher, and music director for a Hollywood party boat, touring the LA harbor with actors and singers, and turned them into stories. Ken remained active until he could no longer participate due to ill health. Florence Logsdon Anderson, an original member whose articles were published in several magazines, and Marjorie Russo, a newspaper columnist and World War II veteran who had joined the group soon after its inception, remained members until they passed away.
As the League membership and leadership changed, the group adjusted accordingly. When I first joined in 1976, Marjorie Russo showed me how to revise and move sentences by cutting them out of the paper and taping them where they would fit better. Even after I acquired a computer, she still brought over her scissors to cut and tape her story. Writers still cut and paste, although without scissors or Scotch Tape.
Through the years the members have held contests for school children to promote writing. Members have also attended conferences, conducted workshops, and invited authors to make presentations. To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Skagit County in 1983, the League compiled a booklet: Authors of Skagit County. We published anthologies in 2000, 2005, 2008, 2014, and 2021; the 2008 one was compiled to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Skagit Valley Writers League.
The League is still fulfilling the needs of its members as it has done in the past. Through general meetings and critique sub-groups of four or five members each, the members help with editing, share in each other’s successes, and comfort each other during the agonies of revisions and rejections.
The group has moved forward to meet the demands of present times by developing a website, organizing Writers, open mic events, and arranging workshops on marketing, publishing, and improving the craft.
The Skagit Valley Writers League started with six members in 1958 and has grown to approximately 70 members. Looking back, we thank our founding members for our beginning, and thank those who came after them for their contributions in helping the League grow. Looking ahead, we will continue to provide a forum for the community of writers. With dedicated and skilled leaders and enthusiastic members, the League has entered the 21st century publishing world and continues to be a haven for writers.
History of the Skagit Valley Writers League
by Hemlata (Hema) Vasavada