A Brief History of AWG

AWG founder Mike Hayward was working at NBC in the early ‘90s.  One day, an executive mentioned that the would-be writers at NBC who submitted samples to the development department could really use help structuring their scripts properly. 

An avid writer with a few credits, Mike knew other aspiring writers at NBC and nearby Disney.  Both companies were located on Alameda Avenue on Burbank, so the Alameda Writers Group was born.  The AWG started meeting in 1992 at NBC. The network provided the meeting room, and Mike ran the meetings and recruited guest speakers—including Marc Cushman, who attended one of the first AWG meetings, and went on to be an habitual AWG president. The late Joe Doyle was another early member. 

“Mike did a good-natured take on an AA meeting,” recalls Marc. “He would start by saying, ‘Hello, my name is Mike, and I'm… a... writer.’ Everyone would sing out, ‘Hello, Mike!’”  Marc was asked to be a guest speaker but soon found himself leading a special interest group. 

The buzz about the AWG grew, and the group jumped from 20 writers to 100-plus members in a matter of months. Eventually, the AWG opened its ranks to writers outside the NBC and Disney families, and had to find a new home. 

In 1997 the group started meeting at Warner Brothers Ranch, moved two years later to a theater in North Hollywood, and then to its present home at the Glendale Central Library. Mike Hayward and Vic Cabrera, the AWG’s first and second presidents, were awarded the designation “Life Member.”

AWG Presidents (1992 - present)

 
1992 - Mike Hayward (founder)
1993 - Vic Cabrera 
1994 - Eli Green (first 6 months) / Shirley Scott (second 6 months) 
1995 - Marc Cushman 
1996 - Anne B. Fowler 
1997 - Mike Hayward (2nd term)
1998 - Eli Green (2nd term) 
1999 - Ben De Jean (first 6 months) / Debra Okoniewski (second 6 months)
2000 - Marc Cushman (2nd term) 
2001 - Marc Cushman (3rd term) 
2002 - Beverly Diehl 
2003 - Beverly Diehl (2nd term) 
2004 - Marc Cushman (4th term) 
2005 - Brian McCarthy 
2006 - Brian McCarthy (2nd term) 
2007 - Chris DelliCarpini
2008 - Chris DelliCarpini (2nd term; first 6 months) / Demetrious Polychron (second 6 months)
2009 - Colin Brownlie 
2010 - Dan Abbott 
2011 - Lilly Thomasian
2012 - Marc Cushman (5th term)
2013 - Marc Cushman (6th term)

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Comment by AWG News on June 18, 2012 at 9:42am

The First Meeting

by Mike Hayward

If memory serves, the first general membership meeting of the Alameda Writers Group was held on Saturday, February 22, 1992.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. in the second floor conference room of the KNBC Building on the NBC studios lot at the corner of Olive and Alameda Avenues. Approximately 55 people attended, half of which left at the first mention of charging dues. (Well, maybe it was only four or five, really.)

My favorite memory was, at the beginning of the meeting, I asked, "Who are we?" After a small identity crisis swept the room, the answer "Writers" slowly filled the room. After several seconds had passed, I could tell everyone was pretty much on the same page. Then I asked the really hard question:

"And why are we here?"

More silence as people tried to connect the dots and offer an answer that wouldn't embarrass them if they said it too loud.

"Because we're writers!” someone offered.

"Because we want to become better writers," another voice volunteered.

"To write!"

"To share and be with other writers!"

The answers trailed off into mumbles.

In the hush that followed I was preparing myself to say something wise and profound (the responsibility of any good host at the beginning of an AWG GMM), saying something like "Yes, for all those reasons and more..." and then going on to enumerate what those reasons were, but attendee Kate Williams-Hayes beat me to the proverbial punch:

"So we don't have to be home writing!" her voice filled the room.

A small beat was followed by gales of laughter.

The best I could do in following Kate's comment (after the laughter finally died down) was a sheepish "That's right... so we don't have to be at home writing!"

It was a great beginning to a great meeting. And, for the remainder of my service as president and host of that year's monthly GMMs, I began each meeting the same:

"Who are we?" ("Writers!")

"And why are we here?" ("SO WE DON'T HAVE TO BE HOME WRITING!")

Well, it worked for a while – at least until several new, serious-about-their-writing people expressed concern that they had somehow stumbled into some kind of "AA" meeting - and that was the end of that.

Still, I look back on those early days with a smile. We were serious about our writing, but never so serious that we couldn't make fun of ourselves and the crazy path on which our creative interests were taking us. If we were going to cry over our writing, we could learn to laugh as well. And it helped.

It helped a lot.

Comment by Vic Cabrera on June 15, 2012 at 8:46am

A DAY IN THE HISTORY OF THE ALAMEDA WRITERS GROUP

By

Vic Cabrera

In the beginning, there were just two writers.  Mike Hayward and I earned our living as Associate Directors at NBC, but we were both writers at heart. We would often exchange material and provide feedback.   One day, Mike asked me if I wanted to form a writers group.  I had no idea what a writers group was, or what they did.  Mike was enthusiastic and seemed knowledgeable on the workings of such an organization, so I agreed to show up and help him set up a place where a few writers could meet.  I made arrangements to use a conference room at NBC in Burbank, on Alameda Street, and set up coffee and donuts for the meeting.  Mike did everything else; he got a guest speaker, put notices in an NBC and Disney newsletter, came up with some writing exercises and we were ready for the Saturday meeting. 

 

The first General Membership Meeting (GMM) had no membership at all?  We had no idea if anybody would show up.  As it is today, the GMM was to start at 10am.  By ten-fifteen we had writers camping in the hallways because the conference room was packed.  People were sitting on the floor, and some on each others laps (a tradition some wish to bring back)… you know when writers let loose it can wild!  I scrambled and got us into a rehearsal hall.  I rounded up some chairs and we moved everybody. 

Mike became President, and I became Vice President.  We had an inspiring meeting and knew that there was something special happening.   For several years after, Mike and I traded the Presidency until other members stepped forward.  The rest is AWG history.  Now, many years after that first GMM, I’m back as Vice-President for 2012.  I’m a much better writer than I was then.  The professionals that I met at the AWG taught and inspired me throughout the years.  

I encourage all current and former members to contribute their AWG History.

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