Our next interview is with Sonia Linebaugh, long-time member and volunteer with the Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA). As a writer, editor, writing coach and artist, Sonia finds the creative atmosphere of MWA has been a boon to her career, providing her with the motivation and creative outlet she needs to be successful. I asked Sonia what advice she had for someone who is considering volunteering, yet is hesitant about the prospect.
“Jump in! There may be times when you think you’re crazy, but overall, the ambiance of being with people who are interested in getting things done, not in a bureaucratic way but in dynamic way, is very exciting.”
For Sonia, this involvement definitely feeds back into her creative side. Since joining she has written a novel, is almost through the first draft of her second, has contributed to two MWA anthologies, and has written for the independent newspaper Bay Weekly. Her involvement continues to open all sorts of possibilities.
Volunteering happened fairly quickly for Sonia after she was introduced to MWA by a colleague from Anne Arundel Community College. Just a year after joining, Sonia took over the short works contest. Once she got involved, she says, it was hard to stop. She has since served as president, vice president, editor for two newsletters, writing contest coordinator, and grants coordinator where she successfully sought a Maryland State Arts Council grant. Her most recent positions include programming chair, nominations chair, and coordinator of the 2012 novel writing contest where she implemented online submissions and a three-tiered judging system to streamline the process.
What has Sonia seen in her 15+ years with MWA? An organization that has grown from a small gathering of writers to a large state organization with several chapters throughout Maryland (the Montgomery Chapter was just chartered in June 2012). Sonia is proud to say that she was involved with the shift helping the organization move through planning to implementation of the new structure. Since the change, MWA has more than doubled its membership. Today, each chapter runs local programming and supports a community of writers including local critique groups where writers of all genres and levels can seek and offer help with the creative process. At the state level, members take part in annual conferences, book fairs, and writing contests. They are also privy to invaluable tips and techniques on all aspects of writing via quarterly newsletters, the MWA website, and a vibrant the online community.
Sonia is also proud to have been a part of MWA’s transition to the digital world, saying that it has been exciting to see the organization take to it so readily. Since MWA began using social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo! Groups, the group now reaches out to members and beyond - a perk that benefits anyone interested in the writing life.
Through it all, Sonia continues to be inspired, both as a writer and as a MWA member.
“What I found in MWA especially when I got involved in leadership was a really lively group of people who were not only interested in writing but also interested in promoting writing, in making connections in the writing world, in bringing those connections to the larger body of MWA members, in meeting people who were successful in the writing world, and in just being in an environment of writers. That is what kept me in those positions.”
In addition to being an active member of MWA, Sonia's professional memberships include Washington Independent Writers; American Association University Women; Anne Arundel County Gifted and Talented Advisory Committee (2001); and Annapolis Arts Alliance. She is also a founding member of the Advocates for Herring Bay, a non-profit organization whose mission “to preserve and enhance the environmental health of Herring Bay, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.”
Be sure to visit Sonia’s website at At the Feet of Mother Meera.
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