Mount Mary College, Writers on Writing

Writers on Writing at Mount Mary College

Last night began the Fall 2011 Writers Series sponsored by the English department at Mount Mary College. I had the pleasure of joining many of my classmates for this event in Mount Mary’s beautiful Stiemke Hall. Milwaukee Magazine editor, Bruce Murphy, spoke at length about his own freelancing experiences in the Milwaukee area. Murphy, who was instrumental in breaking the Milwaukee County pension scandal a few years ago, shared some interesting insider stories, along with tips for working as a freelance writer in the area.

A panorama of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin by...
Image via Wikipedia

In his discussion (and in his online bio,) Murphy refers to himself as a “fiscally conservative liberal contrarian.” I took this to mean that he likes to play the devil’s advocate, a favorite role of my own, so I enjoyed the talk. And, who can complain about the free food (cookies and lemon bars paired with a variety of flavored waters… Who would have thought that ice water could taste so good with a couple of strawberries and lemons tossed in?)

The historic Third Ward
Image via Wikipedia

One piece of advice Murphy couldn’t seem to repeat often enough was this: don’t study journalism, it’s a waste of time. Instead, Murphy says you should study some other subject that will expose you to a variety of viewpoints. Murphy said he would far rather one of his own children study English than journalism, even if journalism is what they want to do for a living.

Murphy also discussed the procedures for freelancing with Milwaukee Magazine. He even made it sound easy to get published, as long as you’re able to come up with some fresh ideas that fit the format of the magazine. I’m an ideas person myself, so this gave me some hope. According to Murphy, like many print publications, his popular city magazine uses mostly freelance pieces due to ever-tightening budgets. So, it sounds like there really is freelance work to be had if you know how to market yourself and your ideas.

Want to try your hand at freelancing for Milwaukee Magazine? Check out their Writer’s Guidelines for more info. Murphy says the best way to try to break into Milwaukee Magazine is through their front-of-book Insider section. If you have a few ideas that you think would work for this section of the magazine, simply e-mail your ideas, along with samples of your previously published work, to Query Managing Editor Cristina Daglas ( If she likes your idea, she may ask you to write the piece.

The next Writers on Writing event at Mount Mary College will take place on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. and is titled, “Writers Writing to Right Their World.” This event features panelists Tom Matthews, Christopher Mojar, and Laura Schaefer. These events are FREE and open to the public, but space is limited. If interested, RSVP to or call 414-258-4810, Ext. 395.

I have attended several of these discussions in my time as a graduate student in the Mount Mary College Master of Arts in English Program and would recommend them to any writers and aspiring writers in the local area.

~Mandy Webster


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