SAWG History

The following is a condensation of the history of SAWG Louise Stewart wrote in November 1999. Louise was a long-time member of the Board and an Honorary Member of San Antonio Writers' Guild. She served the Guild with unsurpassed devotion and mentored many local writers. Louise left this earth on June 8, 2001, but she will never leave the hearts and memories of her fellow San Antonio writers. A poetic tribute by Louise’s friend, Junelle Gambs, is available and will be reposted on the website later.

History of the San Antonio Writers' Guild
Its first quarter-century, 1975-2000

"Wouldn't it be great if every writer in San Antonio could get the kind of help we're giving each other?" That question, asked over burgers and brews, launched an effort to organize writers in what was then the nation's eleventh largest city.

The San Antonio Writers' Guild came together in February 1975 as a forum offering information and guidance to persons concerned with writing, critique, publication, and marketing. The Guild provided workshops in the various disciplines of writing fiction, nonfiction, juvenile, and poetry — and a general discussion group as well. Within the workshops, members' manuscripts were read aloud for critique, and possible markets were discussed. By July 1975, the group had 41 members, including both novice and published authors.

In April 1976, the group sponsored its first Writers Fiesta as an official event of Fiesta Week and an official Bicentennial Event. Guest participants included John M. Allen of Readers' Digest, Dallas poet Jack E. Murphy, and UCLA film writer Ron Pearlman. The third Writers Fiesta was cosponsored by the Continuing Education Division of the University of Texas at San Antonio. William Goyen, Shelby Heron, and Elmer Kelton were visiting workshop leaders, with local authors Robert Flynn, John Igo, and Naomi Shihab Nye, among others. The fourth and fifth Fiestas were also cosponsored by UTSA; the sixth and seventh were cosponsored by the Trinity University Continuing Education Department. Financial setbacks caused by last-minute schedule changes prompted the Guild to downsize later events. All of the Fiestas included writing contests with cash awards.

In 1980, the San Antonio Writers' Guild was incorporated and received non-profit tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, qualifying as an educational organization.

Monthly SAWG meetings begin with "good news" reports and a brief business session, followed by a speaker. The Guild also sponsors half-day Saturday Seminars for more intensive study.

One of the most popular SAWG events is the annual Members' Writing Contest, with cash awards presented to winners at the Holiday Party in December. In addition to the standard prizes based on entries, the Guild presents three $100 memorial awards and the unique "Judy Award" endowed by a charter member, a $20 prize to the Guild member who has accumulated the most rejection slips during the year.

As we approach our 25th anniversary year of 2000, with 125 members, the San Antonio Writers' Guild remains the largest and most diverse organization of writers in San Antonio, a place where every writer can find help and give it. For many writers published in this quarter-century, the path to success began with an article, a chapter, or a verse honed in a Workshop at the San Antonio Writers' Guild. Could there be a finer testimony?

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