Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hell hath no fury… (Night Hands now available!)

I am beyond delighted to share the news about a new e-publication with The Massachusetts Review’s Working Titles series! – Jen

“Groping hands have been in the news a lot lately: Unhand me, Sir! Hands off! Keep your mitts to yourself, buster. These hands are mostly predatory, and mostly male. Jen Cross writes about a young woman, Tüz, who lives in a village dystopia where the focus is on female hands and the dangers they’re thought to represent.”
-Elizabeth Harries, from the Introduction to Night Hands          
a story by Jen Cross
with an introduction by Elizabeth Harries
In Night Hands Jen Cross creates a dystopian world in which women’s hands are the focus of social organization and gendered oppression. Exploring themes of agency, sexual liberation, and domestic violence, Cross weaves together fantasy and realism in a strikingly modern fairy tale. Cross’s originality in both plot and form marks Night Hands as unique and enduring.
 

“It had been Tüz’s eldest sister, Talia, who first explained that she would lose her hands. Tüz had been horrified, but her sister explained to her that this was the difference between little girls and women. ‘You don’t want to stay a little girl, do you?’
“Tüz had shaken her head. ‘But how does he do it?’
“Her sister reluctantly revealed the pale pink opening at the base of her wrist, then she took her little sister’s hand in hers and, with a fingernail, traced in a line around the child’s wrist. ‘Yours will be here,’ Talia said.”
Read more here, or purchase at Amazon, Kobo, or (coming soon) from Weightless Books.
 
Jen Cross is the author of Writing Ourselves Whole: Using the Power of Your Own Creativity to Recover and Heal from Sexual Traumaand the co-editor of Sex Still Spoken Here: An Erotic Reading Circle Anthology. Jen’s fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in over 50 anthologies and periodicals. Jen has facilitated sexuality and sexual trauma survivors writing workshops for over fifteen years, has worked with hundreds of writers, through private workshops and in collaboration with colleges, social change organizations, and other institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the U.S. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and an MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College, and has been awarded residencies at Hedgebrook and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Art Center. 
Elizabeth Harries taught English and Comparative Literature at Smith College until her retirement. Her book Twice Upon a Time: Women Writers and the History of the Fairy Tale attempts to redefine the history of the fairy tale in Europe and its role in our present culture. She is currently working on a study of narrative framing.
Available on Amazon, Kobo, and coming soon to Weightless Books!

Finish your book! Join us in Dive Deep

Stencil graffiti -- insert your life story hereHello writers & writers-to-be!

I hope the summer words are finding their way to the page through your fingers…

Just a reminder: Our third Dive Deep trimester begins in September. Read on for more details, and let me know if you can join us!

~ Dive Deep
An advanced, manuscript-centered workgroup
Third 2019 cohort opens to new members in September!

o The *Dive Deep* workgroup is for those who have delved into (or are ready to commit to) the deep dive of a large writing project, such as a novel, memoir, or poetry collection. Though writing is a solitary pursuit, no writer has ever completed a long work alone: Divers meet three times per month for writing, project check-in and accountability, feedback, coaching and peer support. This group can help you meet your writing goal, and provide community and encouragement as you go deep into a writing project. The fee is $250/month, with a four-month commitment required; the group will remain closed for those four months, in order to give Divers the opportunity to set long-term goals in an established and supportive community.

Join us!

No previous writing experience necessary! All groups meet near BART station and other public transportation options. Spaces are still available, though limited, and pre-registration is required! 

Questions or concerns? Write to me at jennifer(at)writingourselveswhole.org.

Is it the same if everything’s different?

graffiti of the words "love your imagination" next to a woman holding an umbrella, apparently floating...

Good morning, good morning. It’s 5:30 and outside it’s windy and active — the birds are talking and the BART shines its whispery greeting beneath their song. it’s early, my eyes aren’t quite working yet.

In an hour, or less, actually, I’ll get in the shower and get ready to go to work. Many things have changed in the last couple of months. I let go of the workshop space in Oakland. I took a job at Book Passage and then I let that go, too. And I’ve gone back to a job at UCSF — yesterday I managed to read a complete novel during my commute (and then while waiting in line to get the photo for my id badge taken and then while waiting for the new employee training to start and then while on the shuttle from Laurel Heights to Parnassus and then again after I got home and before bed — there may not be nearly so much reading time today).

I left my last job at UCSF in 2012— I was ready to ramp the workshops up to a new level, and felt I needed to have all of my time and energy available for that. And then I immediately got a massive back spasm that impacted me for several months, maybe hinting at my ambivalence about the whole project.

It’s strange to be back at something I left seven years ago. Much is the same — I’m working for the same department with many of the same people, which is delightful — and there’s a lot, too, of course, that’s changed. I feel grateful and sad, like both a success and a failure. It turned out — after seven years of very hard work — that the workshops couldn’t sustain me here in the Bay Area, or I just wasn’t able to figure out how to make that happen. I’ve scrutinized it from so many angles, and I’m not going to do that this morning — it sends me down a sad rabbit hole, and I don’t want to do that today.

Because there’s been plenty of success, too…

(Read the rest on Patreon! This post is available to everyone… )

why I watch all these shows about cults (patreon)

CW: cults, brief mentions of sexual and psychic and physical abuse

Cults are very popular right now – as fodder for the massive television industry that seems to require as much content as the Internet: 800 channels going 24/7, and not all of them can run Law and Orderor Seventh Heavenall day every day. So Oxygen and Netflix and Sundance TV all have recently run series devoted to delving into the horror of particular cults, their leaders and followers, their practices. There’s yet another movie coming out about Charles Manson. Several books came out recently revisiting Jonestown – including one by Jackie Spier, who was there in Guyana at the time of the massacre. American Horror Storyhad a season devoted to a cult.

I’m curious about our cultural fascination with cults at this moment in history – what brought this up for us? What has us tuning in to learn the gristly details about Rulo, NE, or Jonestown, or the Manson girls? What has us reading about fundamentalists polygamous communities? What has us watching Leah Remini’s round tables and exposés about Scientology?

I know why I tune in. I want to read about other people who experienced something similar to what I did, and how they survive in the Real World (as opposed to the isolation of the cult world) after they managed to escape. I want to see how bad it might have gotten if we had not gone to the police (and been believed). I want to see that I am not crazy for feeling crazy so much of the time, even all these years later.

(read the rest of this post on Patreon — available to all, not just Patrons!)

Your words are waiting: Join us for Meridian or Dive Deep…

Stencil graffiti -- insert your life story hereHello writers & writers-to-be!

We’ve had a bit of a break while I’ve been away, but I’m looking forward to gathering with our local bay area writers again! Our Wednesday morning writing group, Meridian Writers, will open to new writers in April, and our second Dive Deep trimester begins in May. Read on for more details, and let me know if you can join us!

~Meridian Writers
A general-topic group open to all writers!
8 Wednesday mornings, 9:30am-12:00pm, beginning April 24

o *Meridian Writers* invites you to join a community of writers who are connecting more deeply with their writing practice. Find your center and write your story. Coffee and/or tea will be provided, as well as light snacks (sometimes even including homemade bread). At the end of our eight weeks together, you will have a new creative community, and a strong body of new writing. Spaces are limited to 9 writers per workshop session. Fee: $450.

~ Dive Deep
An advanced, manuscript-centered workgroup
Second 2019 cohort opens to new members in May!

o The *Dive Deep* workgroup is for those who have delved into (or are ready to commit to) the deep dive of a large writing project, such as a novel, memoir, or poetry collection. Though writing is a solitary pursuit, no writer has ever completed a long work alone: Divers meet three times per month for writing, project check-in and accountability, feedback, coaching and peer support. This group can help you meet your writing goal, and provide community and encouragement as you go deep into a writing project. The fee is $250/month, with a four-month commitment required; the group will remain closed for those four months, in order to give Divers the opportunity to set long-term goals in an established and supportive community.

Join us!

No previous writing experience necessary! All groups meet near BART station and other public transportation options. Spaces are still available, though limited, and pre-registration is required! 

Questions or concerns? Write to me at jennifer(at)writingourselveswhole.org.

Register for Odyssey; Join a group to heal, or to develop your intuition or spiritual practice!

Here are a few announcements that have arrived in my inbox recently, and I wanted to make sure to pass them on to you! The first, Odyssey, is a writing workshop open to writers from all over the world; the other three are Bay-Area-local offerings…

1) Apply for Odyssey: For writers of fantasy, SF, and horror

Now in its 24thyear, the Odyssey Writing Workshop is widely considered one of the top programs in the world for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Acclaimed authors, editors and agents serve as guest lecturers, and 59% of graduates have gone on to be professionally published.  

Odyssey 2019 will run June 3-July 12, at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire.  

Odyssey combines advanced lectures, in-depth feedback, and one-on-one guidance for maximum impact.  Class meets for over 4 ½ hours, 5 days a week, and students use afternoons, evenings, and weekends to write, critique each other’s work, and complete other class assignments.  Graduates commonly say they worked harder at Odyssey than they ever have, and they learned more in six weeks at Odyssey than in years earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in creative writing.  

The early action application deadline for this summer’s Odyssey is JANUARY 31, and the regular application deadline is APRIL 1. All applicants receive feedback on their writing sample. Financial aid is available. 

Instructors include Odyssey founder Jeanne Cavelos, bestselling authors Holly Black and Sara King, award-winning authors Nisi Shawl and Fran Wilde; highly praised author/editor Paul Witcover, and award-winning editor/publisher Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld Magazine.  We’ll also have agent Joshua Bilmes, president of the renowned JABberwocky Literary Agency, and award-winning editor/publisher Scott H. Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skiesas virtual guests via Skype. 

Visit odysseyworkshop.org to learn more!

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2) Feminist Wicca Training begins February 9, 2019

Year and a Day apprenticeship for women: Developing your early-based spiritual practice – with Carolyn Hunt

Group starting on February 9, 2019
Second Saturday each month plus Solstice, Equinox, and Cross-Quarter rituals.In this Apprenticeship, we experience the Wheel of the Year—the planting, growth, and harvest of our dreams, desires, and aspirations. We tune into the mysticism of Nature and the Goddess, align with the divinity of our own beings, and expand our compassionate political consciousness in a workshop format. 

Prerequisites: 
1. Introduction to Feminist Wicca class or comparable education/experience (familiarity with ethics and women’s circles), 2. Maturity level conducive to intensive spiritual growth, and, 3. Commitment to pursue a Feminist Wiccan path.

To Register: email info@carolynhuntrituals.com to schedule a 30-minute phone call to assess whether our working together is a match!

Visit carolynhuntrituals.com for more information!

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3) Openings in a new therapy group for queer folks:

Ellen Morrison, LCSW, is starting a therapy group for people who identify as Queer (self-identified/LGBQQ-T+GE+2S-IA).
 
A dynamic place for problem solving, healing and empowerment, this weekly group is designed for 6 people to support each other in exploring and resolving issues they are facing. 
 
Group members will:

  • Learn a cooperative process helpful to relationship building, problem solving and healing;
  • Get support challenging limitations and internalized oppression so as to grow steadily toward their goals;
  • Interrupt experiences of isolation;
  • Use creative arts and somatic wisdom, as well as, talk therapy, in the sharing of our lives, practicing skills and learning from both the groups shared experience and diversity. 

This group can be an adjunct to current work in 1:1 therapy or a therapy in of itself.
 
Time: Wednesdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Length: This is an on-going group; new members join as people leave group.
Cost: sliding scale $200-150/month
Where: Berkeley on San Pablo near Gilman and North Berkeley Bart

Learn more at www.ellenfmorrison.com

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4) Trust your truth: An intensive workshop series to develop your intuitive and psychic wisdom, led by Sade Gryffin

Join Sade Gryffin for this fun and intensive seven week workshop series, to develop your innate Intuitive and Psychic wisdom.

What can I expect in the workshop?
The workshop is based in meditation practice. The meditations incorporate guided intuitive energy healings, both seated and in movement, to clear your subtle body (aura and energy centers) of blocked energy.

You will learn powerful practical tools and techniques to:

  • Relieve stress and anxiety
  • Increase self-confidence and self-acceptance
  • Feel grounded and at home in your body
  • Create and maintain healthy boundaries
  • Release old worn out patterns and habits
  • Gain clarity of mind
  • Heal relationships with people, money, and life path
  • Align with your authentic self, and manifest your desires

Time and datesThis workshop runs for 7 weeks, Jan 13th – Feb 24th 2019 Sundays- 9:30 am – 11am; each class is 90 minutes
Venue: Temescal Arts Center Oakland, 511 48th St, Oakland, CA

Investment for full Seven week workshop series: Early bird $360 (before Jan 1st 2019); Regular price $420 (Payment in full or 50% deposit due when you registered.)

Visit cariadhealing.com to learn more or to register!

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We love our writerly, creative, healing community! Connect with these brilliant folks to learn more about their offerings…

<3

 

grateful that you are in this world

Image: colorful birds sitting on a wire, over the words Gratitude is a funny, complicated, and sometimes difficult thing. 

Thanksgiving can be a challenge for many reasons (not least of which the fact that the story many of us are told about the holiday — that it’s to honor the native peoples of the Americas, who kept the pilgrims/first colonizers from starving to death after settling here — wildly sanitizes and white-washes the true history of European peoples on this continent).

We are told this is a day to be with family– the message is everywhere around us, on television, on social media. But what happens when time with family is toxic for us, or harmful, or just leaves us feeling depressed and sad?

We are reminded regularly, whether we want to be or not, that we should be grateful. We should keep gratitude journals, keep a gratitude practice, that gratitude will help us heal. There are times when that sort of practice works for us. But there are also days when we don’t feel grateful at all — when we just feel grief and loss, and then we feel worse about ourselves because we’re not being grateful, and therefore we are inhibiting our own healing somehow.

In my experience, gratitude can be a generosity we offer ourselves and others, but not so much when it feels forced or demanded.

So I just want to invite you to be easy with yourself today (the same as every day). My hope is that you’re with the sort of family — chosen or blood — that brings you joy, allows you to feel a kind of comfort in your skin.  If you are spending this day alone, may it be time that rejuvenates and brings you peace. If you are working, know that many are grateful for your labor, whether they say it to you or not.

I am grateful that you are here in this world, that you are making it through, that you share your story with your notebook and maybe with your community, too. I am grateful for dogs and music and poetry today. I am grateful that my sister and I made it through, and continue making it through every time we get together and keep rebuilding a relationship that got so profoundly damaged. 

Gratitude is never simple or easy, I think, and that’s one of the reasons I appreciate the WS Merwin poem, “Thanks,” that I share with my workshops every year (and have pasted down below). I am never sure whether this is a hopeful or despairing poem, and maybe it’s both. I dunno — reading it always leaves me with a feeling of humanness, I guess: ridiculous, flawed, reaching, aching. We go on saying thank you even when things are so painful and we have suffered so much, not because we’re stupid or because we’re mindless, but because we are alive and in the struggle of living and loving.

Thanks
W. S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

(From Migration: New & Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005). )

One more time — be easy with you today, ok? And if you find some time for some words today, so much the better. Thanks for all the magnificent ways you are you, and for all the ways (visible and invisible) that you appreciate and honor those around you, today and every day.

December writing retreat! Join us for a day of writing in the East Bay hills…

photo of narrow wooden deck, looking out over trees and mt tamalpais

The view from our writing room!

Meridian Writers
 an all-day writing retreat!
Saturday, December 1, 10:30am-5:30pm.
(Light breakfast from 9:45-10:30am)
Lunch provided.

Open to all writers, regardless of writing experience or previous participation in Meridian Writers.

Location: Private home in the East Bay

Treat yourself to a day of good writing, good food, and good community!

photo of brown dog lying on a wooden deck next to table and chairs, looking out over eucalyptus grove

(Sophie enjoying the deck)

For this day-long writing retreat, we gather for coffee or tea and some home-baked breakfast, and then write through the rest of the morning. After a break for lunch, we dive back into our work through the afternoon, and we close by 5:30pm.

You’ll end the day with:

  • New creative writing,
  • Feedback about what’s strong and powerful in your writing,
  • A strong sense of writing community, and
  • Inspiration to keep on diving into your words

Give yourself a day to immerse yourself in words and supportive community — in a beautiful, quiet space with views overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fee: The fee for day-long retreats is $200; a $100 non-refundable deposit will secure your registration.

Spaces are limited: Please let me know if you’d like more information or would like to register! Write to me at jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org; visit writingourselveswhole.org for more info about our workshops or methods.

we don’t have to take all of it in

sticker art of an open mouth with full lips -- in between the teeth are the words, "I'm now ready to get rid of anything that keeps me small" and signed by the artist Blur

Yesterday I shared this message with the writers in a couple of my workshops, and wanted to expand it a bit here:

Last Thursday, I decided to turn off the news.

I had help in this decision — in fact, I needed help to make the decision. In spite of the fact that I was (literally, I think) making myself sick with the constant influx of adrenaline and horror, it took conversations with four different people who are deeply important to me before I felt like it was ok for me to step away from the 24/7 “news” stream. 

All weekend I didn’t read the news. I didn’t listen. I didn’t look at it on the phone. I get the main points — it seems unavoidable (subject headers in emails from mailing lists, conversations with friends) — but I am no longer (at least, for the time being) soaking in grief and terror and rage.

I kept getting triggered, kept imagining I could deal with whatever the latest awfulness was, metabolize it, before the next bit of awfulness, but it just wasn’t possible. The awfulness kept flooding in. More details of assaults, repetitions of those same details, more lies, more white men in power pretending to give a shit about the violence done to women’s bodies and psyches from the day that they’re born … more white men (and women) in power listening to the stories of that pain and grief and just simply not caring about it enough to make a decision that might end up impacting their positions of power and control.

None of it is surprising. None of us are surprised. We are outraged, we are grieving, but we are not surprised.

It’s true that I hoped. Ridiculously, I hoped for a different outcome — just like with the 2016 election, just like with the invasion of Iraq in 2002. In all of these instances, massive outcry and protest did nothing to change the behavior of the white (mostly) men in positions of power.

Is it ridiculous to hope, though? I look at that word up there and see an inner voice that’s not always so kind. Calling myself ridiculous for continuing to imagine that change is possible (given what changes have already occurred in the world for women and others around sexual violence) is an unnecessary violence. It’s doing the work of the abusers for them.

Of course, it’s much harder to sustain that vision, to hold open a place of possibility within myself, when I am continually retraumatizing myself with the “news” and commentary, nearly all of it hostile and negative (because that’s what makes the best clickbait).

Just one day off the news made a difference. Yes, I’m still angry. But I don’t feel flattened. I’m able to remember the power of each survivor’s voice, what we offer each other when we speak, when we shout, when we whisper, and what a difference that makes. And that difference is what matters most to me. That difference is what’s important. That difference is what will change the culture we live in. It can’t not make that change.

Dr. Ford’s testimony made a difference for me, and for thousands of other survivors around the country, millions around the world — as did the testimony, formal and informal, of the innumerable other survivors who have been sharing their stories in person, via social media or blog posts, in classrooms, in small groups, through graffiti or anonymous notes or whispers on the bus.

Every single fucking time we stand up and tell the truth about our lives, we make a difference — in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. Every single time we stand up and shake off someone else’s hands, refuse to keep their secrets any longer — that makes a difference. It makes a difference to someone else who had still been afraid to speak. It shows us what’s possible.

I couldn’t remember any of this when I was binging on horror news stories and so-called commentary. I couldn’t even hold the possibility. I couldn’t write. I was so depressed I could hardly articulate a thought. I couldn’t remember why what I do matters, why any of the work of all the brilliant and powerhouse survivor-activists I know mattered. The catastrophic clickbait news wants me to see the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal machine as unstoppable– and I did see it that way for awhile. And then I turned off its media arm.

We are told that we have to know what’s going on in order to be good citizens. But I’m having to remind myself that there are, for me, ways to stay informed that don’t leave me feeling drained of all energy to take any action in my life.

We don’t have to take all of it in — all of their hostility, all of their rage, all of their fear. We can say no to it. We can turn off those screaming, outraged faces, and turn our attention to the faces that we love.

We already carry our own trauma realities, a 24/7 flow of fear and grief and rage already in our bones and veins. We also carry hope and joy and desire and curiosity. It’s so important to make decisions for ourselves and our lives that leaves room for that second flow as well… because that flow — the tremendous power of our creative genius and delight — is what is changing our lives, our relationships, our communities, and the whole fucking world. I mean it.

At some point, I’ll turn the news on again — I do miss NPR in the mornings. Maybe later this month. I have something pretty important I need to be able to focus on first. I also need to be able to focus on the writers in my workshops, the folks who are contacting me about groups — to be able to focus on my family and love, to be able to feel what else exists in the world besides murderous rage. I am grateful to be able to turn away, and to turn toward possibility, to turn here toward you.

I am so glad you are here. I hope you’re doing whatever you need to do in order to best take care of you today — and I’m grateful for all the ways you are easy with yourself.

Announce: Our Fall’18 Schedule!

Once again, we’ve got a full group schedule coming up this fall:

  • Write Whole: Survivors Write – open to all women survivors of sexual trauma
  • Meridian Writers – a morning writing group open to all writers
  • Writing the Flood – our monthly writing meet-up!
  • Day-long Meridian Writing Retreat – Give yourself a day to fall into your words
  • Online: Embodied Writing – honoring the stories of our bodies
  • Dive Deep – a manuscript working group

More information about each group is below. Contact me if you have questions about any of our offerings, or if you’d like to register!


Write Whole: Survivors Write
For women survivors of sexual trauma
Wednesday evenings, 6:30-9:00
November 7 – December 19 (7 week session)
Fee: $375
Where: Writing Ourselves Whole workshop space, 1 block from 12th St./City Center BART station in Oakland

Many of us who are survivors of trauma feel fragmented or disjointed and have come to believe we must always live our lives this way.
In Write Whole groups, we learn that we can live and feel whole in our experiences and desires — we create new art through writing, transforming our pains and fears into power and love. Transforming and expanding our language has the effect of changing who we know ourselves to be. In a Write Whole writing group, you’ll write in response to exercises chosen to elicit deep-heart writing, engaging with such subjects as: body image, family/community, sexuality, dreams, love, faith, and more. Though we come together as survivors, we are never required to write any particular version of “our abuse story.” In this space, you have the opportunity to write as you feel called to write, no matter what the subject. Although the setting is a supportive one, this workshop is different from a “support group,” as the focus of the workshop itself is on each person’s writing. We create beauty out of the sometimes extraordinarily difficult stuff of our lives. (Each writer will also meet with Jen for a one-hour private consultation.)


Meridian Writers:
Find your center & write your story.
Wednesday mornings, 9:30am-12 pm
November 7 – December 19 (7 week session)
Fee: $425
Where: Writing Ourselves Whole workshop space, 1 block from 12th St./City Center BART station in Oakland

Are you ready to release the stories at your core? Meridian Writers is seeking writers who prefer a fun, generous and supportive atmosphere in which to write together and celebrate one another’s creative efforts.

All genres and all experience levels are welcome — give yourself the structure you need to let your writing flow. Writers at this workshop create work in many different genres: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, memoir, science fiction, and more. Whether you are working on a longer project or ready to let a new voice emerge, you are invited to join this community of writers who are connecting more deeply with their writing practice. Find a strong new creative community, and create a beautiful body of new writing. (Each writer will also meet with Jen for a one-hour private consultation.)


Writing the Flood
General-topic monthly writing workshop
Fee for this workshop is $50 (with a sliding scale)
Meets the third Saturday of each month, 1:00-4:30 pm (except when otherwise noted!)
Fall groups: October 13, November 17, December 15
Where: Writing Ourselves Whole workshop space, 1 block from 12th St./City Center BART station in Oakland

For anyone looking to prime the writing pump or learn more about the Writing Ourselves Whole writing group format: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we write in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, so that you can get onto the page the stories that have been stuck inside for too long.

Continue working on an ongoing project, or get started on something that’s been percolating for awhile. We have time for three different writing exercises, so you’ll leave with fresh material. No previous writing experience required — open to folks of all writing abilities!


Dive Deep – A manuscript working group
Next cohort opens January 2019
Where: Writing Ourselves Whole workshop space, 1 block from 12th St./City Center BART station in Oakland

This workgroup is designed for those who have delved into (or are ready to commit to) the deep dive of a large* writing project:

  • a novel;
  • poetry, story or essay collection;
  • play or screenplay;
  • daily blogging;
  • preparing work for publication;
  • or any other long-term writing project.

Though writing is a solitary pursuit, no writer has ever completed a long work alone!

Divers meet three times per month for writing exercises, project check-in and accountability, manuscript feedback, coaching and peer support. This group can help you meet your writing goal, and provides community and encouragement as you go deep into your writing projects. This is necessary work you’re doing: give yourself all the tools and support you need.

* “large” is relative — whatever your writing project is, if you want support and accountability and regular connection around that work, we would love to have you!

Workshop fees: This is an ongoing group; the fee is $250/month, with a three-month initial commitment required; the group will remain closed for three-month cycles, then will open at the end of those cycles for the possible addition of new members. Dive Deep is limited to 6 members per cohort.


Meridian Retreat
a haven for your words
Saturday, November 3, 10:30am-5:30pm.
Fee: The fee for day-long retreats is $200; a $100 non-refundable deposit will secure your registration.
Where: Private home in the East Bay

Open to all writers, regardless of writing experience or previous participation in Meridian Writers.

Treat yourself to a day of good writing, good food, and good community! For this day-long writing retreat, we gather for coffee or tea and some home-baked breakfast, and then write through the rest of the morning. After a break for lunch (provided), we dive back into our work through the afternoon, and we close by 5:30pm.

You’ll leave the retreat with: a rich body of new creative writing; feedback about what’s already strong and powerful in your new writing; and inspiration to keep on writing.

Give yourself a day to write in a beautiful, quiet space with views overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.


Online writing group:

Embodied Writing:
Honoring our bodies’ stories
November 11 – December 22, 2018
Fee: $250

For those not in the Bay Area and therefore unable to attend in-person workshops, or for those uncomfortable with joining us in person.

Participation in the writing groups is both in-person and asynchronous: join us for weekly writing sessions and access exercises and readings, write and post your writing, and respond to others’ writing as works best for your schedule.

No special software required–just a web browser, Internet connection, and desire to write into your deepest stories.


Visit our Groups page to learn more about our writing groups, and contact Jen with questions or to register!