international association of professional writers 

international association of professional writers

Empowering Professional Writers through International Collaboration

1. Global Network of Professional Writers

First and foremost, the basic outline of Word Alliance was produced in the form of a website. The purpose of the website is to be the central point of contact for any member of the global network. Here, it is possible to obtain information about the alliance, and it is also the platform for writers to communicate with each other. There is also a message board provided as a basic forum for members to discuss and exchange information on a public level. This is also the place where many job opportunities have been mentioned. To cater to Japanese language writers, there is a section of the site that is dedicated to information in Japanese. Over the past few years, the main page and various other parts of the site have been updated, and a lot of work has been put into the website by one of the researchers. A simple connection of professionals from different countries paves a significant way of empowering professional writers from each member. An example of this is when information about translator jobs in manga has been relayed from Japanese writers to English writers who may participate in the translation. Any other offline conversations and exchange of information between the writers is the other part of this. Due to many writers having different offsite chat applications, it would be difficult to decide on a basic standard. However, the main concurrency is held through the use of MSN Messenger. This has played a significant part in unification and the exchange of information throughout the global network.

Professional writers need a way to unite their platforms, spot new opportunities to work, and broadcast their services. Consequently, this proposed a need for a global nexus that caters to the interests of professional writers. This was conceived by the principal researchers, namely a global network of professional writers christened The Word Alliance. The idea was to create some sort of global link between professional writers, whether it was to exchange information, klatch, and find and broadcast job opportunities. The members of the research team are the pioneers of this network. This initiative enables professional writers from around the world to relay information and job opportunities they have found in their countries so that writers from other countries may have a chance to participate in text-related work. Word Alliance has proven to be very effective over the course of time, and it is evident that this initiative has empowered professional writers by providing a channel to unify and exchange information and job opportunities from all over the globe.

2. Advantages of Membership in the Association

The heart of the association is its members. It thrives on the energy and talent they contribute and receives inspiration and guidance from their commitment to the common goals of the association. Members benefit from the association by developing their professional relationships nationally and internationally much more than they could on their own. As an officer in the association, I saw the inner workings of the executive committees and boards, both standing and ad hoc; the ebb and flow of these groups is something to behold. Complex issues were hammered out, involving the expertise and judgment of the members. These were not decisions arrived at lightly, nor were they rubber-stamping exercises of ideas of association leadership. These decisions were made carrying the membership’s concerns foremost. The decisions didn’t always go the way I personally wanted, but I always came away with a sense of accomplishment, that what was arrived at was in fact the best course of action for the membership at large. Coming to this realization made me very proud to have served the association, and a good deal of my career goals have been in line with this. I don’t equate these to having sold out to the evil “establishment”. Up to now there are plenty of opportunities to effect changes in the course of decisions. In fact, it could be said that the association gets its best service from its younger members, who aren’t afraid to question authority on the basis of the strength of their arguments.

3. Professional Development Opportunities

The online course allows peer critiquing. Ninety-nine percent of students recommended that this activity should be repeated in future courses. They found the feedback to be constructive and a significant learning experience. Approximately half of the students were ELI students and needed special accommodations. They found the online course to be an effective learning environment that provided them with greater independence in their learning process. ELI students participated more in the online course than they did in an on-site course according to their previous experiences. These students are often at a disadvantage with on-site courses because culturally, English-speaking students will not understand their silence is a way of participating less, and teachers often perceive these students as understanding the material since they may be nodding or appear to be paying attention. ELI students expressed satisfaction with receiving quicker grades on their submitted coursework, and clarification sheet tooltips and repeated mini-lectures were very helpful in reinforcing learning points. The ability for students to log on and review discussions and lecture materials anytime was an advantage for all students, particularly those with learning disabilities. They could take more time to understand the material, and it served as a good reference tool to prepare for exams. Open text responses from students raved about all aspects of the course. They felt that learning writing skills will benefit them in their future careers. Many students enjoyed the flexibility of the course and felt it was a great way to bridge a gap in getting transferable credit for their degree programs. Finally, comments from students indicated that all learning ideals – from understanding tailored to multiple learning styles, to self-improvement of overall quality of arguments and ideas – were experienced at a higher level than they are in on-site courses. Information from the study was used to establish the Online Writing Center: a valuable resource for all types of students, including those looking to extend learning outcomes gained in the online course, and those looking to advance their writing skills to meet essential graduation and program requirements. The Online Writing Center offers valuable support for any distance students and accommodates on-site students during late hours and periods of heavy enrollment in the on-site writing courses.

4. Advocacy for Writers’ Rights and Fair Compensation

Author societies established collaborative ventures to achieve common goals and improve working conditions. In Asia, the Malaysian Book Publishers Association and the National Book Council of Sri Lanka funded two writers to attend the Found in Translation (FIT) (International Federation of Translators) meeting in Prague. These writers are part of a team translating a junior fiction series and, as translators in their own right, were able to contribute to the overall professional development of literary translation in the region. At home, they will present a report on the FIT meeting at a translation symposium being organised by the society for Malaysian translators. This is an example of how translators can take collective knowledge back to other writing communities and move translation out of the isolation often felt by literary translators working alone. The New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) has given its support to a group of writers and NZSA members who, during the next year, will be cultural ambassadors for New Zealand literature. The writers will be involved in various literary events and festivals in Leipzig and Germany, an initiative begun by the NZSA’s relationship with the Centre for the New Zealand Studies at the University of Leipzig. The cultural ambassador concept was instigated following an invitation to NZSA from Creative New Zealand, seeking ways of getting New Zealand writing better known abroad. At a national level, author societies may also take positions on certain public policy issues and/or carry out lobbying activities. An example, in 2007-8 the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is going to take a more active role in lobbying the Australian Government on the issue of Copyright. This will be to ensure that Copyright legislation and Copyright contracts do not undermine the interests of Australian creators.

5. Building a Strong Community of Professional Writers

The main vehicle for international collaboration will be the Consortium’s regularly scheduled electronic meetings, which will allow participants to engage in both real-time and asynchronous exchanges, without the expense and travel time involved in face-to-face international meetings. Additional tools to support communication will include a website, listserv, and regular email newsletters. These electronic communications will help the field of writing studies become a more internationalized discipline; they will also enable the Consortium to work more effectively towards improving the status and conditions of writers in countries where writing specialists are a new and often isolated group. Finally, through its programs and services, the Consortium will intend to give back to the wider community of academic and professional writers, by developing projects to improve conditions for specific groups of writers (e.g., writing teachers who themselves are graduate students; international scholars and scientists; academic writers in community colleges or in third-world countries). This would be a way of again fostering positive change in the field, and a specific form of service to writers in the world at large.

To deal effectively with the problem of isolation among many successful college and university professional writers – a group that as a whole suffers from what Earl Wasserman calls “the loneliness of the long-distance writer” – we found it important to create as part of the conference an ongoing organization to unite such writers internationally. This group, the International Consortium of Academic and Professional Writers, grew out of an initial meeting convened by the project directors at the conclusion of the 2004 conference. In planning the Consortium, we made a conscious effort to draw on Kushner and Koerber’s model of the value of a community of peers, and to learn from the long-established CCCC Committee on the Preparation of Teachers of Writing. The Consortium was designed to provide a space for professional and scholarly discourse on the field of academic and professional writing itself, as well as to create the type of resource network that conference participants deemed valuable.

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