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The Writing By Writers Tomales Bay Workshop brings aspiring 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 21 - 25, 2020 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.  Please click here for a full schedule.

Faculty:  Our faculty includes Kaveh Akbar, Samantha Dunn, Garth Greenwell, Pam Houston, Paul Lisicky, and Tommy Orange.

 

Faculty & Workshops

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Crushed Glass and Medusa's Veil: Exploring The Revelatory Break a Poetry Workshop

Kaveh Akbar

In his A Year With Swollen Appendices, Brian Eno talks about experiencing the crack in a blue’s singer’s voice or the static of a grainy film as being “the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.” If we accept as American writers that our medium, the English language, is one of the deadliest colonial weapons ever invented, then its breaking becomes a political urgency. How do we undermine our language’s inherent corrosiveness, turn a violent technology against itself to speak to things—doubt, sex, identity, justice, rage—it would rather us leave unspoken? This course will look at writers—including Robert Hayden, Jean Valentine, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Jos Charles—who use revelatory breaks in idiom, form, and syntax to render with clarity what is too urgent, too momentous, for mere rhetorical speech. We will then apply those techniques to our own imaginings of what might be possible outside the inherited strictures of our inherently imperialist medium. 

Kaveh Akbar's poems appear recently in The New Yorker, New York Times, Paris Review, Poetry, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. His newest book, Pilgrim Bell, will be published by Graywolf in 2021; he is also the author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James 2017). Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph and Warren Wilson Colleges. 

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Finding the Bones: A Story Generator Workshop

Samantha Dunn

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass,”Anton Chekhov supposedly said. Whether you are a beginner or prolific writer, come gain a better understanding of the structural elements that underpin any kind of compelling narrative, whether it be fiction, nonfiction or spoken word. This workshop will use a multitude of exercises to tap into and enhance your own deep sources of creativity. Develop new techniques for creating characters that come alive, creating vivid worlds with your words, and generating story ideas. Come prepared to ask the question “What if?” and deeply imagine new possibilities. By the end of the week, you will have at least one well-honed story ready for public consumption.

Samantha Dunn is the author of Failing Paris, a finalist for the PEN West Fiction Award in 2000, and the memoirs Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life (Henry Holt & Co.), a BookSense 76 pick, and Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex and Salvation.  Samantha’s work is anthologized in a number of places, including the short story anthology, Women on the Edge: Writing from Los Angeles, which she co-edited with writer Julianne Ortale. Other recent collections showcasing her work include the Seal Press releases Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small and Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up.  Samantha’s essays have appeared in numerous national publications including the Los Angeles Times, O (Oprah) Magazine, Ms., and Shape. In 2000 she received the Maggie Award for Best Personal Essay in a Consumer Publication. A widely published journalist, her bylines are regularly featured in InStyle, Glamour, SELF, Men’s Health and a variety of other consumer magazines. She has also written for the stage, as a co-creator of the show “American Ese,” and has taken a few turns screenwriting as a member of the Writers Guild of America. Samantha teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers Program and at the Idyllwild Arts Center in California, and was a longtime writer-in-residence at the New York State Summer Writers Institute.  A former specialty features writer for The Orange County Register, Samantha lives in Orange, California, with her husband, musician/politico Jimmy Camp, and their son, Ben.

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Style in Fiction

Garth Greenwell

“Style” is something writers talk about a great deal, but often without a clear sense of what it means. In this workshop we’ll try to be as concrete as possible, examining the elements that make up style in order to see how they’re used to create something distinctive and, hopefully, unforgettable. In workshopping student writing, we’ll pay special attention to stylistic elements, while also considering other aspects of craft to give holistic feedback. Manuscripts limited to 5000 words.

 

Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, which won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for six other awards, including the PEN/Faulkner and the LA Times Book Prize. His new book of fiction, Cleanness, was published in January. His fiction has appeared in the New Yorker and the Paris Review, and his nonfiction appears widely. He lives in Iowa City.

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The Shape of Your Story

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.Manuscripts 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, which puts on between seven and ten writers gatherings per year in places as diverse as Boulder, Colorado, Tomales Bay, California and Chamonix, France. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. A book of letters between Pam and environmental activist Amy Irvine will be published by Torrey House Press in October of 2020.

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ON URGENCY: A MEMOIR & CREATIVE NONFICTION WORKSHOP

Paul Lisicky

What does it mean to write memoir and creative nonfiction in 2020? How to write out of our personal urgency while also asking questions about community, power--all that is wrong with the world and all we'd like to make better? How does it feel to be alive right now? We'll think about those questions alongside all the matters of craft: voice, structure, focus, sonics, description, polarity, openings, closings. We'll do this through the lens of your own manuscript while also looking at short examples of outside work. There will be time for exercises. Along the way we'll work hard and make sure that play and seriousness share the same space. Manuscripts limited to 5000 words.

 

Paul Lisicky is the author of six books including Later: My Life at the Edge of the World, The Narrow Door, Unbuilt Projects, The Burning House, Famous Builder, and Lawnboy. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, Conjunctions, The Cut, Fence, The New York Times, Ploughshares, Tin House, and in many other magazines and anthologies. He has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener/Copernicus Society, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where he has served on the Writing Committee since 2000. He has taught in the creative writing programs at Cornell University, New York University, Sarah Lawrence College, The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere. He is currently an Associate Professor in the MFA Program at Rutgers University-Camden and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is at work on a memoir Animal Care and Control.

Considering the Reader: A Fiction Workshop

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 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. His novel, There There won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the American Book Award. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California.

 
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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 21, 2020, 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 25, 2020, 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 21

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 22

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 23

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 24

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 25

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, 2020, 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

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