Our Mission

To create a rigorous and compassionate environment to learn the art of reading and writing from accomplished authors.

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PO Box 1271

Los Altos, CA 94023

info@writingxwriters.org

Faculty & Workshops

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The Writing By Writers Tomales Bay Workshop brings aspiring writers into close community with nationally known poets and writers.  Manuscript and poetry workshops are limited to 12 participants to ensure an intimate setting. 

When:  October 16 - 20, 2019 at Marconi Conference Center, Marshall, California, just north of San Francisco in Marin County.

Tuition:  $1,675 (before April 1) $1,775 (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.  Please click here for a full schedule.

Faculty:  Our faculty includes Carolyn Forché, Pam Houston, Rebecca Makkai, Tommy Orange, Carl Phillips and Lidia Yuknavitch.

 

Faculty & Workshops

Carolyn Forché

This is a hybrid workshop for poets, memoirists and other writers who find themselves writing—or wanting to write—poetry and prose charged with the urgencies of our time. We will explore writings that fuse the personal and the political in that space between the intimacies of the hearth and the institutions of the state: the social space of the creative imagination. We will work from generative exercises and also share our ongoing projects (a hybrid of workshop critique and experiment). Readings of exemplary works in poetry and prose will be provided in advance, along with instructions about what to bring and what to expect. We will be guided in our work by James Baldwin: “For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.” 

 

Carolyn Forché’s first volume, Gathering the Tribes, winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, was followed by The Country Between Us, The Angel of History, and Blue Hour. She is also the author of the memoir What You Have Heard Is True (Penguin Random House, 2019), a devastating, lyrical, and visionary memoir about a young woman’s brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others. She has translated Mahmoud Darwish, Claribel Alegria, and Robert Desnos. Her famed international anthology, Against Forgetting, has been praised by Nelson Mandela as “itself a blow against tyranny, against prejudice, against injustice,” and is followed by the 2014 anthology The Poetry of Witness. In 1998 in Stockholm, she received the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award for her human rights advocacy and the preservation of memory and culture.

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Writing as Witness and Resistance: Poetry/Prose

Pam Houston

This will be a prose workshop open to writers of both fiction and memoir/personal essay. We will talk about form and structure, maybe even a bit about geometry. About each of the pieces that are turned in to class we will ask, has this story found its truest, most evocative shape yet, and if not, how can we help it get there?  We will also talk about all the other elements that can make or break a story: scene, dialogue, beginnings and endings, character, narrative tension and narrative arc. We will also of course talk about courage, honestly and compassion as it applies to the stories before us. Please, in preparation for class, read There, There by Tommy Orange, and The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. Manuscript limited to 5000 words.

Pam Houston is the author of the memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, as well as two novels, Contents May Have Shifted and Sight Hound, two collections of short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me, all published by W.W. Norton.  Her stories have been selected for volumes of The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Short Stories of the Century among other anthologies. She is the winner of the Western States Book Award, the WILLA Award for contemporary fiction, the Evil Companions Literary Award and several teaching awards.  She teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, is Professor of English at UC Davis, and co-founder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

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The Shape of Your Story

Rebecca Makkai

In narrative fiction, it's plot -- cause and effect, development, change, suspense -- that propel us forward. In less narrative fiction, we have to rely on other propulsions: lyricism, innovation, surprise, rhythm, revelation. And, as in every art form, we need to master the traditional forms before we can break the rules. In this workshop, we'll look at both the structure of traditional narrative fiction (referring to the wisdom of Aristotle, Freytag and others) and also at the wildest formal experimentation being done today. We'll workshop student fiction in this light -- focusing on arc, on shape, on plot or the lack thereof -- asking, in every case, what moves the story along, and how to make it impossible to put down. Since our focus is on form, it's important that these pages consist of one complete short story, or more than one very short complete piece. Manuscripts limited to 5000 words.

​Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. Her short fiction won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and was chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2008-2011). The recipient of a 2014 NEA fellowship, Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University, and she is the Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.

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What Makes the Story Go

Tommy Orange

​We live in a distracted, brutally fast world now and there are countless other things to do than read, so I like to focus on the experience you’re facilitating for the reader, how to think about the writing in terms of making sentences either shine or disappear—always keeping pacing in mind, and increasing readability without sacrificing voice. That being said I believe the workshop as a whole is more important than the individual facilitator, so I try to help facilitate a kind and generous shared experience. I believe the most helpful kinds of feedback in a workshop are as kind as they are considerate. Manuscripts limited to 5000 words.

 

Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California.

Considering the Reader: A Fiction Workshop

Carl Phillips

​Going on the premise that the best way to learn to write well is to read great writing, we will look at different poems each day, figure out how they manage to lift off the page, and use the strategies of those poems to generate new poems of our own and to help with revision ideas for poems that we can't seem to get off the ground. I'll provide a mini-anthology of poems for us to look at. Please bring with you a poem of yours that you feel is finished, and two poems that are still in progress. 

Carl Phillips is the author of fourteen books of poetry, most recently Wild Is the Wind (FSG, 2018), and Reconnaissance (FSG, 2015), winner of the PEN USA Award and the Lambda Literary Award.  He is also the author of two books of prose: The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination (Graywolf, 2014) and Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry (Graywolf, 2004), and he is the translator of Sophocles’ Philoctetes (Oxford, 2004).  A four-time finalist for the National Book Award, his honors include the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Academy of American Poets. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

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Poetry Workshop

Lidia Yuknavitch

​A radicalization of what we mean when we say “workshop.”  Shared work, discussion, critique, bring your body, your writing, your art, and a willingness to leave your comfort zone.  We will find the heart of your story and bring it to life, blow up your existing work as well as open up future options you didn’t even know were there (everything you’ve ever written has at least five more ideas in it).  Manuscripts limited to 5,000 words.

 

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of National Bestselling novels The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children, winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award's Ken Kesey Award for Fiction as well as the Reader's Choice Award, the novel Dora: A Headcase, and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories Of Violence (Routledge). Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award and the Oregon Book Award Reader's Choice. A book based on her recent TED Talk, The Misfit's Manifesto, was released in October 2017. She has also had writing appear in publications including Guernica Magazine, Ms., The Iowa Review, Zyzzyva, Another Chicago Magazine, The Sun, Exquisite Corpse, TANK, and in the anthologies Life As We Show It (City Lights), Wreckage of Reason (Spuytin Duyvil), Forms at War (FC2), Feminaissance (Les Figues Press), and Representing Bisexualities (SUNY), as well as online at The Rumpus. Writing by and through the body, one workshop at a time.  She founded the workshop series Corporeal Writing in Portland Oregon, where she teaches both in person and online.  She received her doctorate in Literature from the University of Oregon. She lives in Oregon with her husband Andy Mingo and their renaissance man son, Miles. She is a very good swimmer.

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Between the Body and the Page

 
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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 16, 2019, 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 20, 2019, 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 16

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 17

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 18

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 19

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 20

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.  If you are not accepted to the workshop, we will refund your $25.  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, 2019, 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 unlikely event that we must cancel a workshop and you do not wish to transfer to another workshop, you will receive a full refund.

Apply

 

Faculty & Workshops

Travel

Schedule