Judith Ann Moriarty

James Boone Dryden of WriteCamp Milwaukee

By - May 26th, 2010 04:00 am

Bay View’s Hide House will be the site of WriteCamp Milwaukee, a June 5 gathering of wordsmiths intent on polishing their craft (the complete pitch can be found here). A chap named James Boone Dryden helped fuel the event, and just so you know, he runs the JB Dryden Company, an editing firm offering editorial services, as well as writing and editing workshops and seminars. This indicates that his chops are fairly substantial.

Okay, let’s do it…

James Boone Dryden. Wow, what a moniker. Perhaps you were born to be a writer. Are you from Milwaukee?

Milwaukee has not always been my home, but I call it home now. I came out of UWM’s English department in the early 2000’s with a hope of finding that perfect editor/writer job. It didn’t happen. Since then I’ve dedicated my time to put together a writing community that I can be proud of and in doing so I’ve really found a lot of good writers in this city.

From the WriteCamp information sheet, I can see that the Milwaukee edition is one of many camps. Are they located throughout the United States? Where and what is this all about?

WriteCamp Milwaukee is one of many in a host of  non-traditional “un-conferences,” modeled after BarCamp, which started in Palo Alto in 2005. Our particular iteration of it  is relatively new and even more uncommon. As far as I know — and I did as much research as I could — we were the first writer’s un-conference in the country, followed closely by one in Bryant, Texas, which I was pleased to help out with.

It’s based on a somewhat tech-centric concept known as “open source.” What that means is that a basic framework is built by a group of people and then that framework is given to the public to be used as they see fit. Thus, we merely procure the venue, arrange the necessities and tell people, “You have all day; make a conference.”

We have five rooms available to participants with each hosting a 45-minute workshop or session every hour. This year there will be a free pancake breakfast, the Milwaukee-Madison combined poetry slam team and a variety of folks from Southeast Wisconsin who come to share their knowledge and learn from others.

Are you a non-profit and if not, how are you supported?

WriteCamp is not an organization, but  merely a free event put together by some of Milwaukee’s great small businesses and community organizations. With the help of my own company, the conference is put on by The Milwaukee Writers Workshop, Robinson Writers and a host of locally-based businesses.

We have sponsors support us in a variety of ways — from monetary donations to advertising space and food. It is great to see so many business give to the community and help bring new types of events like this to Milwaukee.

I still struggle with getting writers (some ostensibly “mature”) to differentiate between the correct use of “your” and “you’re.” What’s your motivation for taking on the directorship?

The concept came out of my years working with my wife at BarCamp Milwaukee, now in its upcoming 5th year. As a writer, I felt like there ought to be something similar for writers. So with the help of some very dedicated people we put together the very first event last year and we were pleasantly surprised at the wonderful turnout.

WriteCamp makes me happy with its success. People in the writing community need this —people in any community need it — because the traditional form of a conference just doesn’t work in today’s free-exchange-of-knowledge society. People like to be able to show that they know what they’re talking about without having to wait for a Master’s degree and 30 years in the industry. We’ve all gained experience along the way and I think a conference like this allows people to really put themselves out there and demonstrate what they know and what they’ve learned.

Milwaukee Public School’s 4th graders, scored at the bottom of the barrel in reading skills. Personally (and as a former teacher), I think this is because they aren’t expected to write. Maybe they don’t see it as important in our computer-driven age. Care to comment?

Writing is important in any age, at any age. In fact, I think writing is more important now because the computer age is making peoples’ writing sloppy and readers aren’t happy with it. It’s easy to start your own blog, make your own e-zine or any other number of word-related ventures, but a fair amount of them are of poor quality.

I think writing is a great way to communicate, and I think a lot of people still have a great respect for the written word — whether it’s online or in print. It’s sad to see that a lot of people both young and old seem to disregard it.

Categories: 5Q

0 thoughts on “5Q: James Boone Dryden of WriteCamp Milwaukee”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Mr. Dryden about the importance of writing. May I add that training in writing also inspires rational thought. Ranting, raging, rambling bloggers aside, writing your thoughts and having the opportunity to edit them informs the writer,as well as the reader.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I attended last year’s WriteCamp and it was a really fantastic event. Thanks Boone and team for making it happen.

  3. Anonymous says:

    […] James Boone Dryden: He is the director of programming for write camp, and spoke on a variety of topics.  The one I attended was the art of tactful critique.  Which I found to be funny and informative.  It also got me thinking  that maybe I should be more open to allowing others to critique my work. He also said something that stood out for me. (I’m paraphrasing) “Writers, who write good short stories can write novels, but people who write novels do not always write good short stories”  (he also mentioned a particular *cough* vampire*cough* novelist, whom, based on her mechanics, could do neither.) (but that’s another story *smiles* ) […]

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