The Writing By Writers Tomales Bay Workshop brings emerging writers into close community with nationally known poets and writers. Classes are limited to 12 participants for manuscript critique workshops and 15 for generative workshops to ensure an intimate setting. 

When:  October 26 - 30, 2022 at Marconi Conference Center, Marshall, California, just north of San Francisco in Marin County.

Tuition:  $1,700 (before April 1) $1,800 (after April 1) includes one four-day workshop, admittance to all panels and readings, and all meals (dinner on Wednesday; three meals Thursday through Sunday; breakfast and lunch on Sunday) and lodging for four nights. Vegan and gluten-free meals are available upon request.

Lodging:  The Marconi Conference Center is located along the east shore of Tomales Bay near the quaint community of Marshall. The location provides dramatic views of the bay and lush inland hills of the Point Reyes Peninsula.  Shared DOUBLE or TRIPLE smoke-free rooms each have a private full bath, in-room coffee, a study desk, a telephone (requires phone card) and free wireless internet access. A limited number of single rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a supplemental fee of $900. We discount the price by $500 for people who stay off campus. Disability accessible and equipped rooms are available. Please let us know as soon as possible if you require these accommodations.

Format:  Workshops are held each morning for four consecutive days. The workshops allow participants to work closely with a nationally known writer, to receive constructive feedback from their peers, and to spend four intensive days dedicated to creativity. Afternoons are reserved for panels by our faculty on craft, student readings, and time to write. Evenings feature readings by faculty and special guests. 

Faculty:  Our faculty includes Charles Baxter, Melissa Febos, Peter Ho Davies, Pam Houston, Carl Phillips and Karen Russell.

 

Faculty & Workshops

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Urgency and Momentum

Charles Baxter

We will be doing a workshop, with close attention to each person's manuscript. I'll be discussing structure, coherence, urgency and momentum, characterization, dialogue, with occasional pedagogical sidebars on matters of concern to our group, such as voice, staging, and plot. I'm particularly interested in those moments in fiction and nonfiction when it seems as if two or more stories are being told at the same time, one being visible, and the other one being suggested or glimpsed. Half-visible narratives are often luminous and are the realm of both religious feeling and psychological conflict, and both lead, when the writing permits it, to revelation. Manuscripts are limited to 5000 words.

Charles Baxter is the author of There’s Something I Want You to Do, published in paperback by Vintage in 2016; the book was a finalist for the Story Prize in 2016.  His new novel, The Sun Collective, was published in late 2020 by Pantheon. He is also the author of Gryphon: New and Selected Stories, published in 2011, The Soul Thief, published in 2008, by Pantheon, and of Saul and Patsy, published in 2003 by Pantheon. His third novel, The Feast of Love (Pantheon/Vintage), was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2000 and has been made into a film starring Morgan Freeman. He has published two other novels, First Light and Shadow Play, and four books of stories. He has also published essays on fiction collected in Burning Down the House (Graywolf) and Beyond Plot, and has edited or co-edited several books of essays, The Business of Memory, published by Graywolf, Bringing the Devil to His Knees (The University of Michigan Press), and A William Maxwell Portrait, published in 2004 by W. W. Norton. He has edited the stories of Sherwood Anderson, published by the Library of America in 2012. He now lives in Minneapolis and was the Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, and Harper’s, among other journals and magazines. His fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories seven times, eleven times in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and translated into many languages.

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The Quick and the Deep: The Art of Short Personal Essays

Melissa Febos

In this generative workshop we will study and practice the art of the very short personal essay. Works of 500 to 1,500 words are among the easiest to publish and the hardest to write. To reach true emotional depth in few pages requires skillful economy of language, masterful deployment of both lyric and narrative modes, and strength of heart; you have to get to the core of your experience, and swiftly. We will examine published works that succeed at this (by Annie Dillard, Ross Gay, Mary Reufle, Patricia Smith, Jo Ann Beard, and many others), workshop drafts in progress, sharpen our tools of craft—especially story structure, pacing, poetic devices, and the art of both showing and telling—and produce our own original essays. Participants will leave the workshop with multiple drafts to develop. Workshop submissions are welcome but not required, and should be a single short essay draft, no longer than 2,000 words. Writers of all genres are welcome.

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir Whip Smart and two essay collections: Abandon Me, a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist and Publishing Triangle Award finalist, and Girlhood, a national bestseller. Catapult will publish a collection of her craft essays, Body Work, on March 15, 2022. A recipient of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and of fellowships from MacDowell, Bread Loaf, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The BAU Institute at The Camargo Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Foundation, and others; her essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Granta, The Yale Review, Tin House, The Sun, and The New York Times Magazine. She is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.

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From Vision to Revision: A Fiction Workshop

Peter Ho Davies

In this class we’ll discuss each other’s fiction (stories or novel extracts up to 5000 words) both in terms of what we’re aiming to achieve on the page - our initial vision - and how we might realize our work’s potential by focusing/modifying/deepening that vision in revision. Come ready to read carefully, criticize constructively, and revise creatively.

 

Peter Ho Davies’ most recent novel is A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself. Other books include The Fortunes, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; The Welsh Girl, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and a London Times bestseller; as well as two critically acclaimed collections of short stories. His work has appeared in Harpers, The Atlantic,  The Paris Review and Granta and been anthologized in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories.

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Advanced Prose Workshop

Pam Houston

This course will be an intensive and advanced prose workshop. We will focus on what I believe to be the real artistry of prose writing: the translation of the emotional stakes of the story onto its physical landscape; the way we dip our ladles into the bottomless pot of metaphor soup of our lived and witnessed experience and pull out what we need; the way we pick up hunks of the physical world and bring it back to the page, translated into language. My job as a workshop leader is to make and hold a safe space where we can bring our considered, compassionate and critical eye to each writer’s work and discuss how to make each manuscript even stronger. We will be aiming for sentences in which the language is always working in at least two ways at once, where metaphors dance between meanings like beads of water on a too hot grill. We will work toward demystifying some of the essential components of storytelling (image, metaphor, structure, dialogue, character, scene, among others) and turning them into comprehensible tools that are at our disposal. We will, no doubt, be humbled in the face of languages unlimited possibility and well as its limitation. At the same time we will honor (and hope for) the inexplicable flights of creativity (and madness?) that take a good story and make it great. Manuscripts are limited to 5000 words.

Pam Houston is the author of the memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, which won the 2019 Colorado Book Award, the High Plains Book Award and the Reading The West Advocacy Award and more recently, Air Mail: Letters of Politics Pandemics and Place coauthored with Amy Irvine.  She is also the author of Cowboys Are My Weakness, Contents May Have Shifted, and four other books of fiction and nonfiction, all published by W.W. Norton. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande and teaches creative writing at UC Davis and at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is cofounder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing by Writers and fiction editor at the Environmental Arts Journal Terrain.org. She raises Icelandic Sheep and Irish Wolfhounds and is a fierce advocate for the Earth.

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Poetry Workshop

Carl Phillips

Since poetry is basically just patterned language, we will look at pattern in poems that I’ll provide, and we will use those patterning strategies as ways both to revise old work and to generate new poems. I’ll also provide daily prompts. You will have the option to workshop new work or older work that you think needs a new set of readers – or you can mix and match and do both! My goal for the workshop is that you will leave with new ideas about how to revise, how to create prompts for yourself, and how to read for patterns in your own and others’ poems.  Please bring four pieces that you’d like to workshop, AND please bring one finished poem that you feel represents your work and can serve as an introduction to who you are as a writer.

 

Carl Phillips is the author of 16 books of poetry, most recently Then the War: And Selected Poems 2007-2020 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and Carcanet/UK, 2022) and Wild Is the Wind (FSG, 2018), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Other honors include the 2021 Jackson Prize, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Award, a Lambda Literary Award, the PEN/USA Award for Poetry, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Academy of American Poets. Phillips has also written three prose books, most recently My Trade Is Mystery: Seven Meditations from a Life in Writing (Yale University Press, 2022); and he has translated the Philoctetes of Sophocles (Oxford University Press, 2004). He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Ghostly Illumination

Karen Russell

“The ghost” writes sociologist Avery Gordon, “represents a something-to-be-done.” When a ghost appears in literature, "The present wavers. Something will happen." The haunting is an appeal (or a demand) for action. The ghost’s uncanny light exposes the rigging in the architecture, the violence of dispossession, exploitation, repression; it also illuminates pathways forward, alternatives and opportunities heretofore excluded from our view. In this workshop, we will read an excerpt from Dr. Gordon’s “Haunting and the Sociological Imagination," as well as selections from the work of Louise Erdrich, Mavis Gallant, Toni Morrison, Kevin Brockmeier, Stephen Graham Jones, Kelly Link, Paul Tremblay, Stephen King, Nana Nkweti and others TBD. We also read each other's work with kindness, honesty, care and rigor, paying special attention to the latent possibilities that haunt our works and worlds in progress. Ghost stories encouraged, and also haunted nonfiction, memori, and poetry--to me this is a very elastic category. Manuscripts limited to 5000 words.

 

Karen Russell won the 2012 and the 2018 National Magazine Award for fiction, and her first novel, Swamplandia! (2011), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and one of The New York Times’ Ten Best Books of 2011. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim award and is a former fellow of the NYPL Cullman Center and the American Academy in Berlin. She graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University and received her MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, son, and daughter.

 
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Travel

The Marconi Conference Center is located on the east shore of Tomales Bay in the town of Marshall, California, 7 miles north of Point Reyes Station.

Workshop registration is on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, from 4 to 5pm in Buck Hall. At 5pm we will have a mandatory orientation for all participants. The week will end on Sunday, October 24, 2021, with workshops from 9:00 – 12:00pm followed by lunch and farewells. Please plan your travel accordingly.

Airports:  The Marconi Conference Center can be reached from several Bay Area airports. Both San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK) are approximately 60 miles and 1.5 hours from the conference center.  Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport (STS) is approximately 40 miles and 1 hour from the conference center.

Ground Transportation:  All three airports are served by most major car rental agencies and there is parking onsite at the Marconi Conference Center.  For door-to-door shuttles from the airport, Marconi recommends the following companies:

  • Marin Airporter Charter & Tours (415) 256-8830

  • Marin Door-to-Door (415) 457-2717

  • All West Coachlines, Inc. (916) 423-4000

  • Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation 1-800-546-6688

  • Black Tie Transportation 1-800-445-0444

Driving Directions:  Marconi provides recommended driving directions from most points on their website. Please click here.

Ride Sharing:  If you wish to coordinate rides with other workshop participants please use the comments box below.

TRAVEL TIPS FROM MARCONI:

Telephone:  There is limited cell-phone service at Marconi Conference Center.  Please bring a Calling Card with a 1-800 access number to make calls from your guestroom phone or one of the public phones on the property.  To receive a call in your guestroom, give callers the private number posted by your guestroom phone – a 10-minute courtesy calling card is provided in each lodging room for this purpose.  Guestroom phones have no message service. Messages left at the Front Desk, (415) 663-9020, will be posted in the reception area or, in the case of an emergency, delivered.  The Front Desk cannot transfer calls to guestrooms.

Property Tips:

  • All Marconi buildings are non-smoking.  Ashtrays are located at entrances, on decks and on patios of buildings.

  • Guestrooms have bed linens; private bathrooms with towels, soap, drinking glasses, and coffee makers/supplies; clock-radios; flashlights; telephones (see above); and free, AT&T WiFi access.

  • The Front Desk sells candy, snacks, drinks, meeting supplies, souvenirs, note cards, postage stamps and a few toiletries.  A luggage cart, irons, ironing boards and hairdryers are available.  The Front Desk Staff has First Aid equipment, an AED, and directions to medical services.

  • Their self-service Business Center, located in the check-in building, offers our guests two computers with Wifi internet access, two printers, and a photocopier/scanner.

  • Comfortable walking shoes, a waterproof jacket or coat, and a sweater or sweatshirt are recommended.  Marconi has no TV, so reading materials are suggested.

  • Campers and motor homes are prohibited from parking at Marconi.  Fires, candles, incense and pets are also not permitted.

For additional information please contact us at info@writingxwriters.org.  We look forward to seeing you in Tomales Bay!

Workshop Schedule

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26

4:00 – 5:00 pm        Registration, Buck Hall

5:00 – 5:45 pm        Mandatory Orientation*

5:45 – 6:15 pm        Meet Your Workshop

6:30 – 8:00 pm        Dinner

8:15 – 9:15 pm        Faculty Reading

9:15 – 10:30 pm      Reception, Buck Hall Lobby

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27

7:00 – 9:00 am         Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00 pm       Workshops

12:00 – 1:30 pm       Lunch

2:00 – 3:30 pm         Panel Discussion

3:30 – 5:30 pm         Fellowship Winners Reading*

6:30 – 8:00 pm         Dinner

8:15 – 9:15 pm         Faculty Readings

9:15 – 10:30 pm       Reception, Buck Hall Lobby

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28

7:00 – 9:00 am         Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00 pm       Workshops

12:00 – 1:30 pm       Lunch

2:00 – 3:30 pm         Panel Discussion

3:30 – 6:30 pm         On Your Own (writing, hiking etc.)

6:30 – 8:00 pm         Dinner

8:15 – 9:15 pm         Faculty Readings

9:15 – 10:30 pm       Reception, Buck Hall Lobby

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29

7:00 – 9:00 am         Breakfast

9:00 – 12:00 pm       Workshops

12:00 – 1:30 pm       Lunch

2:00 – 4:00 pm         Open Mic Reading (250 words max)*

4:00 – 6:00 pm         Point Reyes Oyster Reception & Reading

6:30 – 8:00 pm         Dinner

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30

7:00 – 9:00 am         Breakfast and Check out

9:00 – 12:00 pm       Workshops

12:00 – 1:00 pm       Sack Lunch, book signings and farewells

*  These events take place in Buck Hall

 

Application Details

Acceptance to the workshop is based upon review of a writing sample (10 pages of fiction or nonfiction/personal essay, or five poems).  Writing samples must be double spaced, using a size 11 or 12 Times New Roman or similar font.

An application fee of $25 is required. If you are accepted to the workshop, your application fee of $25 will be applied to your tuition. Applications are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Once you apply you will receive an immediate email confirmation of your application. Sometimes these go into your junk or bulk mail folder. If this happens, please add info@writingxwriters.org to your safe senders list to make sure you get our acceptance notification! If you are accepted, you will be notified of your workshop placement via email and asked to confirm your intention to attend within two weeks by enrolling and submitting a minimum deposit of $1,000. The remaining balance is due August 1 along with the optional supplemental fee of $900 for a single room. Please note, there are a limited number of single rooms and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fellowships:  WxW offers a limited number of fellowships for the Tomales Bay workshop. Fellowships are highly competitive. The WxW Board reviews each fellowship submission and awards are made on the merit of the writing sample alone. Please do not send letters of recommendation. Fellowships cover the cost of tuition, room and board, but do not cover transportation. To apply for a fellowship, please check the “Fellowship Submission” box on the workshop application. The deadline for fellowship consideration is May 1. We are always seeking funding for additional fellowships. If you would like to sponsor a fellowship, please contact us at info@writingxwriters.org.

Cancellation Policy:  If you cancel by August 1, 2022, your tuition will be refunded minus a $150 cancellation fee. Refunds for cancellations made after August 1 are contingent upon filling your place and will be made only if your place is filled. In the unlikly event that we must cancel a workshop and you do not wish to transfer to another workshop, you will receive a full refund.

Apply