How it Began: The Foundations of Western Literary Society

CAM02711 (2)

Members of Western Literary Society gathered for their first meeting of the semester in the Sandburg Lounge


by: Dakota Carlson

It was during the Fall semester of 2013 when I was first approached by friend, neighbor, and WIU alumni Benjamin Scott about starting a creative writing organization on campus. The Western Literary Society was started with the goal of bringing together students who enjoy creative writing and reading regardless of their major. Being a founding member and original President of the Western Literary Society, as well as a Renewable Energy: Policy, Planning, and Management  major, Benjamin was a prime example of an individual who particpated in the organization without coming from an English background. He was very much the driving force and mastermind behind the organization. WLS was established to offer a place where writers can gain confidence, and craft their passions among peers. With much of my passion being in the creative writing process, I was very enthusiastic about being a part of an organization like WLS.

WLS has been one of the most important things I have been a part of during my time at WIU. Being able to connect to other writers who have just as much passion for the art of creative writing as I do has meant the world to me. This organization has helped me to build confidence when it comes to revealing my work to others. It has enabled me to show others the work that I would otherwise keep under wraps. More importantly, WLS has provided me with the motivation to write more. Writing can sometimes be a struggle for everyone. By attending WLS each week, I have built the discipline of writing on a regular basis, which is what it takes to be an accomplished writer. You have to sit down and welcome the creativity. If you don’t put the time and creativity into the writing, it is nothing more than ink and page.

This organization has had its ups and downs throughout the past three semesters, especially in terms of its varying attendance. Like with many of the different organizations on campus, it has been tough to get the organization to thrive right from the start. However, with each week that passes the success of WLS continues to grow. It seems that a lot of students have their reservations about this organization with the preconceived notion that WLS is too formal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. WLS is as laid back and open to all realms of work as it gets. We have heard everything from slam poetry to excerpts from novels-in-progress shared during our hour meetings in the Sandburg Lounge. Something that I always try to stress to possible recruits is that there is nothing to be intimidated by. WLS is about pushing one another to be the best writers we can be in a relaxed, comfortable setting.

This past semester was the third semester that WLS has been an active organization on campus and it proved to show the most promise. More and more individuals are reaching out to our organization with interest in expressing their work to others. Striving for the growth of WLS is a tireless process and the will to reach out to more passionate writers will not cease as the group continues to grow stronger.