WritersNL, formerly the Writers’ Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador, was founded on March 29, 1987, to provide support for our province’s writers. The organization emerged out of a series of panel discussions called Overcoming Isolation and continued to take shape in living rooms around St. John’s. While WritersNL was not the first nor the last writing organization in Newfoundland and Labrador, unlike its predecessors, WritersNL was the first organization created to support and advocate for writers during all stages of their literary careers—a mandate we maintain today. From emerging writers, to authors with multiple publishing deals, nobody is turned away. Since its inception the scope of WritersNL has extended to all corners of the province—with a continual effort to reach writers in communities large and small.
With a list of potential members from the Overcoming Isolation conference, by September of 1987 the Writers’ Alliance had gained a membership of seventy-five. Founding board members were Lillian Bouzane, Peter Gard, Peggy Krachun, Linda Green, Doreen Ayre, Isobel Brown, Joan Clark, Wade Kearley, and Winston Ruby. The core values established by this group remain intrinsic to WritersNL: to create a community and network of communication among writers of Newfoundland and Labrador, to provide advice and assistance to anyone seeking information and knowledge about the literary arts, to encourage and develop public awareness of and appreciation for the work of writers in the province and to enhance the quality of writing in Newfoundland and Labrador through our many services and programs. By the time WritersNL celebrated its first birthday in 1988 it had grown into a robust organization with over one-hundred members and a host of volunteers.
Over the years the WritersNL office has moved from building to building, with a continually rotating staff, board executives and directors overseeing day-to-day tasks and strategic planning in the ever-shifting economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. The not-for-profit currently (as of Spring 2023) has more than 475 members from across the province and boasts some of the finest programs and services for writers in Canada, including: the WritersNL Manuscript Evaluation Service, the WritersNL Emerging Writers Mentorship Program, workshops for authors and poets across all genres, the Inkpod Podcast, as well as the WritersNL e-newsletter (sent out every second week), online member profiles and the WORD magazine publication, all of which are exclusive perks of being a member.
Lastly, advocacy is key to our organization. Our Board of Directors, staff and members worked to reverse the provincial government’s 2016 budget cuts to the libraries of the province. Scheduled readings in the hometown libraries of established authors, many of whom are members of WritersNL, and support from community members, helped show the provincial government the overwhelming interest in keeping our libraries open, and contributed to the government’s decision to revisit library closures. WritersNL is still rallying and advocating for literacy and the resources that writers in this province rely on.
With initiatives around Newfoundland and Labrador, WritersNL continues to support local authors. Operating through various national, provincial and municipal grants, our programs continue to weave a tight-knit community and support system for anyone with an interest in writing.