Since the winter of 1979 the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild has provided a place to relieve the feelings Hemingway expressed when he remarked, "Writing is a lonely occupation." In doing so the Guild has probably played an important role as part of the San Diego writing scene. People from all over the region come in search of support and to share their talents.
As a practical matter, the Guild is a support group that serves professionals as well as novices. We run the gamut of every type and genre: poets and playwrights; novelists and storytellers; journalists; biographers; and writers of fables. We have carried on the ideals of our founders by offering support and encouragement, and have grown as a collaborative partner in the larger San Diego writing community.
But, it wasn't always that way.
The story of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild is one of struggle and fortitude by a group of gutsy women who got started, and many who have continued the effort. In the fall of 1978, our founder, Rhoda Riddell, returned to San Diego from the East Coast. She yearned to find a group of compatible souls who, like her friends in the Word Guild in New York, would share the joys and travails of a freelance writer's life. She advertised for writers in The Reader and was inundated by people seeking work. A dozen or so accepted her invitation to meet as an informal support group.
Prudy Wood hosted some of the early meetings in her La Jolla home. The group began with occasional potlucks and Saturday lunches with speakers, but many meetings were simply "happy hours" held on the first Monday evening each month. Local editors and agents attended those meetings, and many contacts leading to writing assignments were made. The vision was to allow anyone to join, published or not, and forming a network to support writers.
Like most startups, the first few years required entrepreneurial fortitude. Early leaders like Betty Dodds, Betty Smith, Peggy Lipscomb, and Betty Juris stepped up to bat to ensure survival. They formally organized as the San Diego Writers Guild with Betty Dodds as director, leading a council of six other members. Soon after, the group appointed Betty Smith as treasurer, a post she faithfully held for many years.
On September 20, 1980, the Guild held its first conference on the subject of "Successfully Cracking the Writing Market." Speakers included editors from San Diego Magazine and The Reader as well as Don Freeman of the San Diego Union and Guild members Igor Lobanov and Bruce Gibney.
In early 1981 the name was changed to "San Diego Writers/Editors Guild."
In 1982 the Guild began having writers' retreats in such places as Rancho La Puerta, the Rosarita Beach Hotel, and Murrieta Hot Springs.
Through the years the leadership has changed. Presidents Rhoda Riddell, Betty Dodds, Lois Horowitz, Marsh Cassady, Betty Jurus, Barbara Sack, Lynn Ford, Olin Thompson, Gene Wentz, Kim Tucker, John Davis, Judy Edelblute, Carl Nelson, Paul Darby, Bob Doublebower, Carl Nelson, Gered Beeby, Ruth Ritchie, Peggy Lipscomb-Kazwara, Sam Warren, Ruth Leyse-Wallace, and Anne Janda have all provided able administration. Members have come and gone, but our goals remain constant: we offer networking and understanding of the writer’s special life, encouragement to keep going, and help in developing needed skills.
At its January 1998 meeting the Guild honored Rhoda Riddell with its "Founders" Award, while Betty Dodds, Betty Smith (posthumous), Peggy Lipscomb-Kazwara, and Betty Jurus received the "Builders" Award.
Our 25th year anniversary party, held in 2004, was a grand success. With a turnout of more than 100 people, we celebrated a dinner fit for royalty at the Admiral Kidd club.
By 2012, more than twenty authors from the San Diego area had been awarded the Guild's Odin Award, in recognition of being major stimulators of the writing arts of the San Diego community or their excellent progress in writing as evidenced by their body of published work. The Odin Award represents the origin of writing. In the words of Lord Russell: [writing is the] “wisdom of many and the wit of one.” As researched by Guild member John Scott Alexander, the word “write” came from the English word “writan,” originally meaning “to scratch runes into bark.” A rune is a letter or character of the earliest alphabet in use among the Gothic tribes of northern Europe. Runic inscriptions most commonly occurred in Scandinavia and parts of the British Isles. Rune is related to the Old Norse word “run” or “secret,” and the word is also applied to ancient lore or poetry expressed in runes, as well as secrecy, charms, and divination. Odin, a Scandinavian given god-like stature for his wisdom, poetry, war, and agriculture, was also a master of magic. Odin is given credit for discovering the runes and introducing knowledge of rune writing.
Those who have previously received this award are the following:
- Steve Breen in 2009
- David Brin
- Chet Cunningham
- Judy Cullins
- Michael Steven Gregory
- Bob Holt
- Betty Jurus
- Steve Kowit
- Antoinette Kuritz in 2009
- Richard Louv
- Mike McCarthy
- Dean Nelson
- Joan Oppenheimer
- T. Jefferson Parker
- Yvonne Nelson Perry in 2009
- Judy Reeves in 2002
- Alan Russell in 2009
- Arthur Salm
- Pearl Silvernail
- Quincy Troupe
- Victor Villasenor
- Susan Vreeland
- Jack Webb
In the beginning, Rhoda and others had the vision and determination to kick-start San Diego's writing community. It was a tremendous start, because more than 20 years later our town is well known as fertile soil for the development of accomplished and successful writers, many of whom found their way to success through the Guild. We expect to continue our leadership role and make contributions.
In addition to informative speakers at the monthly meetings, membership provides members with a monthly newsletter and a copy of the Member Directory. Members are also entitled to take advantage of the Manuscript Review Program. Since 2012 the Guild has added member benefits such as an active website and social media presence, the option of a listing on the SDWEG Members' Works page, activities such as a monthly Marketing Support Group, participation in the annual Open Mic night, and an opportunity for publication in The Guilded Pen, our edited annual anthology.
In July 2017, the Guild dropped the slash (/) from its name, replacing it with the word and: San Diego Writers and Editors Guild.
In July 2018, the Guild presented Marcia Buompensiero and Sandra Yeaman will Rhoda Riddell Builders Awards in recognition of their contributions to the growth and stature of the Guild in San Diego. Since 2013, Marcia has served as the managing editor of The Guilded Pen, guiding that annual product through the review of all submissions, cover and interior design, and publication. In addition, Marcia has served as Treasurer for the Guild for an even longer time. Sandra has served as webmaster and social media manager for the Guild since 2014.
We expect to continue our leadership role and make contributions for the writing arts among the greater San Diego cultural arts community.