I have a beef.
There seems to be a sincere lack in Milwaukee for two things: true community and artistic openness. When I came into this business 7 years ago, there were a number of writers groups in the city, but they were disjointed and isolated. And they liked it that way. There were even some that met within half a mile of one another and did the exact same thing.
(My biggest success story over the last few years was the merger (after a very long, very congenial partnership) of The Milwaukee Writer's Group (a meetup.com group) and The Milwaukee Writers Workshop. That group, along with ours, worked en tandem to enrich the community as a whole.)
Now, six years later, it's only changed slightly. The major players in the writing world here in the city have all become part of the growing power behind WriteCamp. Slowly, sluggishly, we're pooling our resources to better the literary field in the city and aid one another as a community really ought to do. It's been fruitful, and partnerships are building between our organizations in a way that is exciting and hopeful.
However, and this is a big however, there is little in the way of advocacy for literature in the city. The biggest association for artists only recently began to have programming for writing; the city's largest advocacy groups for art barely considers writing art. Part of it is frustrating; part of it is just par for the course, or so it seems.
So what are we to do?
Recently I attened a Spreenkler Meetup that hosted a panel of local creative spaces for individuals all over the city. There were crafters, business people, artists, and other creatives, but out of six panelists not one of them mentioned poets, novelists, fictionists, or any other kind of writer. It was disappointing, but there was a message that they projected that I am going to latch onto: Be Proactive!
So here is my challenge, my call to Milwaukeeans, Southeastern Wisconsinites, or any other writers: build your community, support your community, and advocate for your community. If there isn't one, make one. If it's small, grow it. If it's disjointed, work like hell to bring it together.
In this world where art is seen as subsidiary to all but the most diehard, we are not competition. We are partners. We all succeed if one of us succeeds. Because you know what: WRITING IS ART