Where the pen is mightier

Richard DiCicco

9:29 p.m. Aug. 22, 2023

“Everybody has a story to tell.” That’s the core belief of WriterHouse, according to its Executive Director Sibley Johns. And while anybody can be a writer, not everyone has the tools to tell their stories and share them with the world. WriterHouse bridges that gap with writing classes and seminars aimed at storytellers of any level of experience or professional know-how.


The idea for a communal writer’s space was born in a local coffee shop (naturally). Once a week for more than three years, a group of writers would gather to workshop ideas, share drafts, and talk shop. In 2008, they founded a space devoted to that process, one that could foster an entire community of writers. Today, WriterHouse offers courses and seminars on writing fiction and memoirs, how to find an agent, and navigating the world of publishing—in addition to co-sponsoring author events, readings, and workshops throughout the year.


And their instructors speak from experience. Emily Thiede took her first courses at WriterHouse in 2015—now she’s its vice president. Her debut novel, This Vicious Grace, was one of Oprah’s top 25 fantasy novels of 2022. But her first manuscript didn’t immediately get picked up; she had to regroup at WriterHouse and work on new ideas before finding success. “The writers who tend to succeed are those who refuse to quit trying while continuously seeking out and accepting critical feedback along the way,” Thiede says. “It takes a bit of arrogance to believe that your words deserve to be in front of readers, but this field is too challenging to pursue without that belief, so embrace it—you are your first and greatest champion.”