Tag Archives: declaring our erotic

If you resolved to write, join us in 2015!

Did you make some writing-related resolutions for your creative self in 2015? Come and join us at one of our many writing groups and workshops, and bring those intentions into reality. Here’s what’s the winter schedule looks like at Writing Ourselves Whole!

Declaring Our Erotic: Open to all women survivors of sexual trauma
8 Tuesdays, beginning January 12, 2015.
Fee: $375 (scholarship/payment plan available)
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt
Find community around the complexity of desire, and transform your relationship with your creative self through explicit erotic writing.

Meridian Writers: Daytime, general topic writing workshop open to all!
9 Wednesday mornings beginning January 14, 2015.
Fee: $425 (Fees from this workshop help support Writing Ourselves Whole’s workshops for trauma survivors.)
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt
Find your center and write your story with a other writers who are connecting more deeply with their writing practice. At the end of our nine weeks together, you will have a new creative community, and a strong body of original writing.

Dive Deep: An advanced manuscript/project workgroup
Next series begins begins January 2015
Fee: $200/month (multiple-month commitment)
Limited to 6 members per group
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt
Designed for those working on (or committing to) a larger project, such as a novel or memoir. Divers meet three times per month for writing, project check-in/accountability, feedback, coaching and peer support.

Write Whole-Survivors Write. Open to all survivors of trauma
8 Monday evenings beginning April 6, 2015.
Fee: $375 (ask about scholarship/payment plan, if needed)
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt
Gather with other trauma survivors and write in response to exercises chosen to elicit deep-heart writing around such subjects as body image, family/community, sexuality, dreams, love, faith, and more.

Writing the Flood. A monthly writing workshop open to all
Meets the third Saturday of every month
Limited to 12. Fee is $50 (with a sliding scale)
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt
Write in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories that have been too long stuck inside
Next Flood Write meets Saturday, January 17. Mark your calendars now for the rest of the winter: February 21, March 21.

Create the space in your summer for the power of your good words! All workshops facilitated by Jen Cross. Email me with any questions, or visit our contact page to register!

take up space in the public arena for the erotic body

I miss my early morning company — there are no owls here to accompany me into this early morning writing time.  I had strange dreams, and they’ve faded now. My body is still in need of help, but it’s better.

This weekend I started thinking again about offering a sacred sexuality class, a group for women (to begin with) where we can write about the pleasures of the flesh and how exactly holy they feel to us — how much it matters that we are in our desire, that we feel our longing body, that we discover how to allow pleasure to bring us all the way open to another person, and, more importantly, to ourselves.

Right now, it’s hard to think about how to justify such a group, just as it’s been difficult to do a lot of promo for the fundraiser for Sex Still Spoken Here, the Erotic Reading Circle anthology — there are wars and violence all over the world. Israel has invaded Gaza, and hundreds of people are dying. The rebels in the Ukraine are shooting planes out of the sky. The people of Syria are dying in thee hundreds. People are sending their infants and children across international borders, alone, in order that they might be safe and free. The people of Sudan find themselves in the middle of a civil war. Every paper I open is filled with stories about sexual violence and atrocity. How can this be a time to speak about erotic pleasure and investigation, about sexual delight and recovery? Isn’t that the last thing on our minds: our own joy?

I spent awhile yesterday reading a story in the New York Times Magazine about the former president of Penn State, who can’t understand why he is being held to account for his lack of action in the Jerry Sandusky case. I avoided the main section of the paper, filled not just with stories about war violence but also about sexual violence. Last week there was a story about young woman who brought charges of rape against her perpetrator on a college campus, and now regrets having done so, given the terrible mess the college has made of the whole thing. I couldn’t bring myself to read that story.

I am grateful for the (apparently sudden) increased attention to sexual violence across the globe, and for the reporting about the way rape is used as a war crime, as a tool of control and isolation, the way sexual violence shows up on college campuses, in church settings in families, in shelters and so-called safe zones, in children’s homes  — how many children’s charities like the one run by Jerry Sandusky are simply either organized by or targeted by criminals to use as corrals of prey? I am grateful for the increased awareness of the prevalence and pervasiveness of sexual violence — and I mostly can’t read all the stories about it that show up in the newspaper or in my newsfeed these days. I turn off the radio. I close the paper. I close the tab on my web browser.

A couple of months ago — have I written about this here? — I broke my car after listening to the beginning  of an NPR news story about a mob rape at a rally somewhere in the middle east or northern Africa (Egypt, I think), and the broadcasters played an excerpt of a recording made of the assault. No warning, no heads-up, no note to listeners: hey, in the next thirty seconds, you might hear something that will take you back to your childhood. Given that we know how prevalent sexual violence is, in homes and in other settings through out an individual’s life, here and around the planet, does it not make sense to assume that a vast percentage of your listening audience might be profoundly and negatively impacted by playing such a recording? I get it that you can’t give a warning in front of every news story — but if you’re going prefix other stories with warnings to your listeners that there might be language in the coming story that they might find offensive (the n-word, the f-word), then don’t you think you might want to use that same logic and apply it to stories about sexual violence, especially when you are going to be unleashing the sounds of someone actually being violated? If it helps, keep in mind that you have male survivors in your audience, too. Maybe that will help you to take survivor sensibility into account — for goodness’ sake, you don’t even have to just worry about women anymore. I hit my radio’s power button so hard with the heel of my hand that I ended up sending my radio back into the bowels of my car’s dashboard — now there’s a little hole in the dashboard, reminding me to pay attention to what I’m listening to.

Once upon a time, I thought it was my responsibility to take in all of these stories, to read or watch or listen or otherwise consume whatever stories showed up in popular culture about sexual or domestic violence — it’s important to be informed, I told myself any anyone who, after listening to me ranting at the news, asked if maybe I wanted to listen to something else. I shouted at my radio while driving home from work and shouted at tv news broadcasters over my third glass of wine. I thought that, as an activist and victim’s advocate, it was my personal responsibility to listen and analyze and respond. But the trouble was that I didn’t respond (except sometimes in my notebooks, and in loud and angry rants that made it impossible for anyone to watch the tv news with me). Instead, I drank, trying to get away from what was already inside me and what was now also coming at me from the outside. I lived the life of a sexual violence survivor, I worked with recent victims and survivors, and I consumed stories about victimization — I didn’t think I had the right to get away, to take a break from the reality of sexual violence, its pervasiveness and use as a weapon of terror and control over folks of all ages, genders and ethnicities. I burnt out over and over and over again with this mindset.

I’ve let myself off that hook, though. These days, I don’t read most of the stories about sexual assault that I come across, and don’t believe that that decision makes me any less potent as an advocate for survivors. I am grateful that the issue of sexual violence is getting more attention. I am glad for the relative amount of space these stories take up in the front section of the New York Times these days — not, of course, at all because I am glad these crimes are occurring. The ideal situation would be for us not to need column inches for stories like these, because rape was no longer being used as a weapon, because men (and women with the same mindset) no longer acted on the belief that others’ bodies exist solely for their use and pleasure. But that’s not yet the case in the world I live in, so I am grateful that these stories now rank as “news” in the minds of news media. Yet, I don’t feel I need to consume each and every one of these stories anymore. I carry enough stories in my body and bones. I give myself permission to turn the news off, to turn the page, to read something else. I’ll be sitting with those stories later, in writing groups, responding to the powerful language of survivors who are finding words for their own experiences of trauma and resilience.

This started out as an apology for wanting to hold open space for the pleasure and the power of the erotic body at a time of overwhelming sorrow, violence, shame and loss. But when is it not that time in our culture? When is there not always something more important to think about and deal with than the tender and exquisite possibility of our erotic selves, the quiet and insistent voice that demands something more than devastation, that manages to hold on to our capacity for joy even in the face of betrayal and evil? Sex can be used to sell everything but our own piece of mind; sex is fine when it’s manipulated by the same hands that want bodies available for their own pleasure, when it’s manhandled in service of the buying public’s mindless consumpton — it’s not fine when it’s offered as a space of empowerment, deep embodiment, and true self-control. Sex can take up airtime when it’s used as a weapon, or as a means of selling cars or beer or electronics or clothes or anything else. Sex is censored when it represents only itself. Sex is viewed as trivial when its presented as a wholly healthy human capacity, or when we ask, how can those of us who have been harmed through sexual acts reclaim the body’s birthright to joy and pleasure? How can (noncommercial) pleasure be as newsworthy as pain?

And so I apologize, have been apologizing all the years I’ve offered erotic writing groups, at least internally: I know, this is frivolous, I’m sorry. It’s not as important as the real work you’re doing, trying to call attention to violence or “end” violence. I know, I’m taking about eros, and that’s so much more discomfiting to you than talking about violence.

Why apologize, though, for trying to change that very fact — for wanting to undo the violence we have so thoroughly inhabited that we find it easier and more comfortable to talk in public about hatred than about embodied love. Why is that our preference? Why is that the way we want our world to be?

The voices in myself that call me out, that clamor for apology, that tell me I have something to be sorry for becuase I want to make space for erotic voices, erotic language, erotic celebration, erotic joy — even and especially in the aftermath and the shadow of our sexually violent culture — are the same parts that have worked all these years to keep me safe by keeping me quiet and small: if we don’t rock the boat, maybe we won’t get hurt. Even with all lived evidence to the contrary, still these parts of my psyche want to pretend like this might be true.

I’ll let you know when I’ve scheduled that sacred sexuality writing group. In the meantime, consider the power and beauty of embodied and complicated erotic expression — particularly in the face of silencing and violence — and hold open some space for your own beautiful and layered erotic self. Check out Sex Still Spoken Here and other media that take up space in the public arena for the erotic body.

writing the delicious body stories (why write about sex?)

(Today’s post comes from the book project writing I’m doing, and was inspired by an article I shared on our Facebook page yesterday. Consider this your prompt: how would your “why I write” or “why I write ___” manifesto read?)

First things first — when we write the stories of our bodies, we are writing sensory detail, we are developing character (on the page and off), we create dialogue, we write about place and time — that is to say, we are using all the tools of our craft. This is not merely an exercise in navel-gazing (as though sometimes navel-gazing isn’t exactly and only the right thing to be doing): this is developing our skill as writers.

Also: this writing makes us fearless. When we have written into the most frightening places in our hearts, into the places in our body that moan and sob without words, what can we not do?

And what about when we write the delicious body stories, the stories of our gorgeous desire, deep longing, sex that is wanted and complicated? What could that do for us?

Let’s make a list. This is what writing about sex can do:

1) Writing about sex can bring you back in touch with your bodily experience through the process of imagining and writing it out.

2) Writing about sex invites us to use everything as material — making even that terrible first date at the Power Exchange worthwhile.

3) Writing about sex can remind you how much fun the words of the body are.

4) Writing about sex, because sex is our birthright, can be way to offer tribute, thanks, and mourning, all at once.

5) Writing about sex is fun; it can turn you on while you’re writing (always a good sign) and can encourage you to explore in words something you had only imagined previously — or had not even allowed yourself to imagine.

6) Writing about sex can help you get more comfortable with the words of sex, making it more possible to say what you mean when discussing or negotiating play/sex or describe (in detail) just what sex you are consenting to — it can also make it easier to discuss sex, without or at least with less shame and embarrassment, with kids when they have questions, thereby breaking the cycle of silence and making it easier for them to talk to you and others in the future. We learn to model the kinds of conversation we want to be able to have.

7) In writing about sex, we learn to find language for our joy as well as for our struggle, learn to describe what feels good and why and how — in writing sex, we go to our own bodily experience first for reference and detail, even when we are writing about bodies different from our own. We start with our sensation and where it combines with our imagination. We use what we know and what we could know. We deepen those neurosynaptic grooves.
I also think this gets us paying closer attention to sex when we’re having (which is double-edged, of course, if we are paying closer attention just to get the words right for the next time we’re writing. A useful exercise for a moment, but, for me at least, the larger goal is to be fully present in the moment. Still, as writers, we often just can’t help ourselves).

8) Let me go back to joy: we are given much encouragement in this trauma-porn culture– in a society much more comfortable with violence than sex (and that often conflates the two and teaches us to do the same)– to find language for what hurts and what we have suffered. We can generally find a friend willing to listen to our struggles, and often find it ardor to get someone to sit down with us and talk with us about the really great sex we had last night. We are not supposed to put words to this joy. Why is this?
This is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that we who are survivors of sexual trauma know what a wonder it is that we even had the hot sex; we know all the chips stacked against the possibility of us ever having hot sex. We know what work we’ve done to be able to be in our body enough, and out of the flashbacks and negative body memory enough, to pick someone(s) who are present and kind and generous enough to make hot sex possible. We know what a wonder it is and we deserve for that wonder to be celebrated.

Our culture needs more joy, more sex, not less — not sex as advertisement or sex as product, but sex as embodiment, connection (including with ourselves), as creative manifestation, as transformative practice. What if more of us got to talk about that with our friends? To have more of the language of joy in our mouths?

9) Writing about sex can help develop our empathy for others.

10) We have heard about the power of writing what’s hard. We have heard about the power of writing envisionings, desires, affirmations — of finding deep, energetic and specific language for what we want. We have heard about the power of gratitude practice. Writing sex can be all of these things, and then some.

Writing sex is writing our trauma and our joy. It’s writing our gratitude and writing what we hope and long for. It’s finding our way into our own language of our body, finding the particular grammar and linguistics of our own skin and bones. It’s finding our tongue’s breath and breadth. It can be affirmation and revelation all at once.

That sounds like an overstatement, but I have been there and I have seen. I have seen how we soften and smile when we find and share the language of our longings, as fiction or poetry or declaration. I have heard that laughter
that is both embarrassed and brazen. I have felt the edges of us begin to crenelate. I have watched as we drop into our bellies, intense our arms, let our thighs fall open just a little: I have seen us find our center of gravity, touch more fully into what roots us now.

recognizing what’s already helping

graffiti of a fat purple Italian eggplant

(ask someone from the first Declaring Our Erotic workshop about the importance of the eggplant picture…)

Good morning and good morning. Here in the southern part of northern California it’s bright this morning, if not clear, and sunny if not exactly warm. The puppy is enjoying the sunshine, and the puppy-mama is, too. How is it where you are? How is it with your heart?

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This Saturday is the 10th anniversary benefit and celebration for Writing Ourselves Whole! There are so many folks helping to bring this event together — donors and volunteers and writers offering their words for the sharing — though by far the one who deserves the most thanks is Renee Garcia, our program assistant and organizer extraordinaire. She is gathering together one hell of an event, and I am tremendously grateful to have her on our team.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years in this good and tenderizing work. In the fall of 2002, I led my first workshop out here in the Bay Area, which was an erotic writing workshop for queer women survivors of sexual trauma. Now it’s ten and a half years since that first group which was so earth-shaking for its facilitator — and we are still going.

You’ve heard me tell this story before, most likely: I came out to San Francisco to run my practicum project for my MA in Transformative Language Arts. My assignment was to gather together a group of folks with whom to run a transformative writing workshop. So here was our intrepid Jen, newly fallen into the middle of San Francisco during a hot and dry August, posting ads on craigslist and hoping that folks would be willing to risk joining a group with a brand new facilitator who was not a therapist who wanted them to come together in all their raw survivorness and write about sex. Talk about audacity. But folks did come forward — many brave and brilliant writers met with me weekly at the LGBT Center in the middle of the city, and set that room on fire. We laughed and wept together, we shuddered through our triggers and worries, and they were unbelievably patient with my fumblings as I began to learn what it meant to hold (with a group of others) the sort of space we were endeavoring to create.  They shared their thoughts and feedback with me, offered ideas for prompts, and then gave me copies of their writing so that I could include it in my thesis. These women were my beginning, my lift off. Many of them went on to continue their creative eruptions: publishing their writing, going on to grad school, diving into their music or visual art, starting their workshops.

For the first many years of facilitating groups, I experienced myself as doing all the work alone. I told myself: it’s me doing all the promo, finding the space to run the groups, coming up with all the prompts, holding the space, supporting the writers. It’s me schlepping the materials from my home to the workshop spaces, buying the snacks, getting us all set up and broken down every week.

And while that’s not a bold-faced lie, it’s also not at all true. I have had tremendous help and support from individuals and community every step of the way. The writers have always helped with set up and break down (if I say yes when they ask!), taping pictures to the walls of spaces so as to claim the empty rooms for our purposes, or filling the bowls of carrots and nuts and fruit; the facilities folks at LGBT Center (Cat and Mike (may he rest in peace)) gave an unknown community member a discounted rate on the room rental for that first workshop and have continued to support us unconditionally; the folks (particularly Rope) at Butch-Femme socials supported us from the jump, passing on the word about workshops and encouraging the community to check us out. One of our writers provided the meeting space for our second group, and consistently provided freshly-baked snacks for every meeting. Workshop participants have talked about the workshops with their friends and communities, passing the word and encouraging new writers to attend. Friends pass on poems; other workshop facilitators share writing prompts. These are, without a doubt, community-built workshops.

Sure, I did most of the physical schlepping. Still–I bet if I’d asked for help, I would have received it.

It’s easy, and sometimes more comfortable, to perceive myself as isolated. As survivors, we are consistently trained to believe that we are alone: no one is with us, no one will believe us, no one will help us. We have to save ourselves, and when we do, we spend a long time (at least this is true for me) still believing that no one cares or wants to help. Therapists are paid to listen, friends get tired of hearing our problems, family were the ones who let us down in the first place — at least, these were the stories I told in service of holding tight to my sense of isolation.

It’s true that I was isolated while I was being abused — it’s also true that I have had strong and consistent support ever since I got out, which has been terrifying to allow myself to receive. I am still struggling to understand why it’s so scary to get help. It means I’m in community. It means I’m good enough to support, that I deserve it. It means, maybe, that I’m accountable and responsible to others — that I get to show up as a part of the human race.

I’m getting so much help around organizing the Fierce Hunger benefit — and I’ve been overwhelmed about that: do I really deserve this sort of support? I get to wrangle with that question while people go on supporting me and Writing Ourselves Whole, whether I think we deserve it or not. How’s that for generosity. I don’t have enough thank yous.

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What about this for a write today: wrangling with isolation and support. Do you deserve to receive help and support, from friends or family or community or the universe? Do your characters believe they deserve support?  Give yourself ten or fifteen minutes with this write today — follow your writing wherever it wants you to go.

Thank you for reading, for the generosity of your eyes and mind, for your good good heart and your good good words.

unpetalling — and erotic writing workshops coming up

graffiti of a rose, with a heart at the center, black paint on concretegood morning good morning. I haven’t offered a tea report for awhile here — this morning’s tea is wulong with mint and nettle, and some crushed anise and cardamon seed. Thanks to my sister and her sweetheart for the wulong — I’ve been doing a bit more caffeine lately, drinking more black and a lot more green tea. This morning my heart is pounding, but I don’t think that’s the aftermath of alchemical buzz. It’s something different.

What do you do on the mornings you can’t remember your dreams, but you know you had them? Meditation would be ideal, I think, wouldn’t it?

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A quick reminder about what’s coming up (apparently it’s all erotic all the time around here, at least according to this update):

Tonight! 1/25 — the Erotic Reading Circle! Join Carol Queen and me for the first Reading Circle of 2012. Bring stories/writing to share, or just be a part of the circle of listeners. 7:30pm, Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission St, San Francisco. $5 (suggested donation, no one turned away)

Saturday, 1/28 — Perverts Put Out! I get to perform along with a whole list of amazingness: Sherilyn Connelly, Daphne Gottleib, Philip Huang, Juba Kalamka, Kirk Read, Thomas Roche, and horehound stillpoint. Jan 28, 7:30 pm, Center for Sex and Culture, $10-15. Come on out and warm up your January.

Saturday, 2/4 — Declaring Our Erotic! Join us for the first meeting of our new monthly writing retreats. Each month, come together with a fun, powerful, and supportive group of writers to dive into some sexy and surprising new writing! We will work with a theme every month (February’s is New Beginnings), and you will be invited to write into the ideas that theme inspires in you, or you are welcome to use the workshop retreat time to do whatever writing is most pressing for you. Connect with fierce writing community and offer yourself into your own erotic voice. Spaces are still open!

1/30-2/29 — I’m also leading an online erotic writing intensive with the Transformative Language Arts Network, Claiming Our Erotic Story. Discover the liberatory uses of erotic writing as you try your hand at some explicit erotic writing, and, in so doing, get more comfortable exploring and talking about sexual desires, explore the varied and complex aspects of sexuality and desire, and celebrate the fullness of our erotic expression! Register with the TLAN — I’m looking forward to writing with you!

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That’s right, now I remember: I dreamed I was with a group of writers (maybe for a workshop) at a bookstore, and I pulled a book off the shelf and said, oh, look, they have my book! It was a book about writing, with exercises, etc. And then I looked again at the cover and it wasn’t mine. In fact, I didn’t have a book. This was someone else’s book that I often mistook for one I had written, or felt that I could/should have written.

Some needling for me in that remembering — yowza.

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A poem prompt today. (Thanks to my friend E., who introduced me to the book of poems called Risk Everything, where this was inside). Let yourself read the poem a time or two, and notice what lines call to your writing self, what associations or images arise in you as you read. Give yourself 10 minutes, and just write.

I Unpetalled You
Juan Ramon Jimenez,
translated Stephen Mitchell

I unpetalled you, like a rose,
to see your soul,
and I didn’t see it.
But everything around
— horizons of land and of seas –,
everything, out to the infinite,
was filled with a fragrance,
enormous and alive.

Thank you for all the ways you unpetal, the ways you risk, the ways you offer your brilliance and fragrance to the world. Thank you for your words.

Winter 2012 Workshops — Here’s what’s coming up!

The new year is the time for a new dedication to your writing practice — and we’ve got a whole host of offerings, beginning in January and February, one of which might be just right for you or someone you love!

Please pass the word, and let me know if you’d like to join us! I’m looking forward to writing with you —

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Write Whole: Survivors Write

SF-based 8-week workshop for women who are survivors of sexual trauma or sexual violence

Winter ’12 Workshop begins Monday, January 16

Meets 8 Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm.

This workshop is open to all women survivors of sexual trauma.

Gather with other women survivors of sexual trauma in this workshop, and write in response to exercises chosen to elicit deep-heart writing, and deal with such subjects as: body image, family/community, sexuality, dreams, love, faith, and more. You’ll be encouraged to trust the flow of your own writing, and receive immediate feedback about the power of your words!

8-week workshop fees: The fee for an 8-week session is $350. (I can generally work out payment plans; please contact me if you have question or concerns about payment.) There is a reduced-rate early bird fee of $315 if you register by  December 20. The regular registration fee will be in effect through January 1, 2012. The late registration fee is $385; last day to register is January 9. Please register early!

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Bayview Writers

A new and supportive writing workshop for Marin.

Tuesday mornings in Tiburon beginning 1/31: 10am-1pm (women’s group);

Wednesday evenings in San Rafael beginning 2/1: 6-9pm  (open to all writers)

Make a commitment to your writing in 2012!

New writing group forming: Bayview Writers is open to all writers seeking a fun, generous and supportive atmosphere in which to create powerful new writing. Using the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method, we write together in response to exercises designed to spark your creative imagination. Whether you’re in the middle of a larger project, beginning something new, or going through a time of ‘writer’s block,’ this workshop is for anyone looking to connect with their writing, regardless of experience level. Connect with other local writers and release the words that you’ve been longing to write.

The fee for an 9-week session is $425. There is a reduced-rate early bird fee of $380 if you register by  November 23. The regular registration fee will be in effect through January 1, 2012. The late registration fee is $465; last day to register is January 6. Please register early!

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Dive Deep
An advanced, project/manuscript-centered working group

Inaugural group meets January 5, 2o12!

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 will 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 provide community and encouragement as you go deep into a writing project. This is necessary work you’re doing: give yourself all the tools and support you need.

Workshop fees: This is an ongoing group; the fee is $200/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 at a time. Please contact me to register!

* “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!

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Declaring Our Erotic

A monthly erotic writing retreat open to all

I’ve reformatted this workshop from an 8-week series to 10 Saturday writing retreats! Each month, come together with a fun, powerful, and supportive group of writers to dive into some sexy and surprising new writing! We will work with a theme every month, and you will be invited to write into the ideas that theme inspires in you, or you are welcome to use the workshop retreat time to do whatever writing is most pressing for you.

In DOE writing groups, we write in response to exercises that bring up different aspects of our erotic, sexual and sensual selves, in a safe and confidential group of peers. This workshop is designed to leave you more confident with sexual language, erotic expression, and your own writing practice. You’ll receive immediate and concrete feedback about what’s already working (and hot!) in your writing, and will leave with several new pieces of work.

Previous participants have found the group to be transformative, feeling that the work they’ve done has opened up and changed not only their relationship with their erotic selves, but with many other aspects of their lives as well.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month, 10am-5:00pm. Light lunch provided. Limited to 12. Fee for Declaring Our Erotic Saturday retreat is $100 (with a sliding scale). Please contact me to register!

Early 2012 retreat dates — mark your calendars!:

Saturday, February 5, 2012: New Beginnings
Saturday, March 3, 2012: Writing the Body (and Jen’s 40th birthday!)
Saturday, April 7, 2012:  Edging into Fantasy

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Writing the Flood

Every third Saturday, 1-4:30pm
(unless otherwise noted)

The first Writing the Flood of 2012 meets on 1/21

Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long.  This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.
Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $50 (with a sliding scale) Limited to 12. Please contact me to register.

Early 2012 Writing the Flood dates — mark your calendars now!

  • Saturday, January 21, 2012
  • Saturday, February 18, 2012
  • Saturday, March 17

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The Erotic Reading Circle

Every fourth Wednesday at the Center for Sex and Culture, 7:30-9:30pm

suggested donation: $5+

Since 2006, we’ve been meeting on the fourth Wednesday of the month to share and celebrate the breadth of erotic artistry in the Bay Area! The next Erotic Reading Circle meets on September 28, 7:30-9:30 at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (cross streets 9th and 10th). $5+ donation requested (no one turned away); donations support the Center for Sex and Culture. This month’s circle will be a collaborative effort with the Sex Worker’s Arts Festival events at the CSC!

Bring whatever you’re working on, or whatever you’d like to be working on.

Come join readers and share your erotic writing! Bring something to read or just be part of the appreciative circle of listeners. This is a great place to try out new work (ask for comments if you like), or get more comfortable reading for other people. Longtime writers will bring their latest… newly inspired writers, bring that vignette you scrawled on BART while daydreaming on your way to work. Carol Queen and Jen Cross host/facilitate this space dedicated to erotic writers and readers. No registration necessary — just drop in!

Upcoming dates for the ERC:

  • Wednesday, December 28, 2011
  • Wednesday, January 25
  • Wednesday, February 22

See you at the Circle!

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Fall 2011 workshop schedule!

graffiti of a pink-purple pencil standing up next to a doorwayHello writers & writers-to-be!

We’ve got a few workshops coming up this month and next around Writing Ourselves Whole, and I’d love to write with you!

  • September 17: Writing the Flood
  • September 28: Erotic Reading Circle
  • Beginning October 3: Write Whole: Survivors Write: 8 Monday evenings, 6-8:30. Open to all women who are survivors of sexual trauma
    Registration is open — Please sign up early, and avoid that late-registration fee!
  • October 15: LitQuake’s LitCrawl! I get to participate in Carol Queen’s Good Vibrations reading again this year, during Phase 2 of the LitCrawl (7:15-8:15)
  • November 12: Reclaiming our Erotic Story (Sacramento)a daylong writing workshop (10am-5pm); open to writers of all genders and all sexual orientations!
  • November 13: Write Whole: Survivors Write (Sacramento)a daylong writing workshop (10am-5pm); open to survivors of all genders

Read on for more information about each of these events— and visit our Sign Up page to register!

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Writing the Flood

Every third Saturday, 1-4:30pm
(unless otherwise noted)

September’s group meets on 9/17


Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long.  This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $50 (with a sliding scale) Limited to 12. Register or email me with questions: jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org.

Upcoming dates:

  • Saturday, September 17
  • Saturday, October 15
  • Saturday, November 19
  • (we break for December — no Writing the Flood this month)

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Write Whole : Our SF-based 8-week workshop

Write Whole-Survivors Write –  Beginning Monday, October 3

Meets 8 Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm.

This workshop is open to all women survivors of sexual trauma.

Gather with other women survivors of sexual trauma in this workshop, and write in response to exercises chosen to elicit deep-heart writing, and deal with such subjects as: body image, family/community, sexuality, dreams, love, faith, and more. You’ll be encouraged to trust the flow of your own writing, and receive immediate feedback about the power of your words!

8-week workshop fees: The fee for an 8-week session is $350. (I can generally work out payment plans; please contact me if you have question or concerns about payment.) The regular registration fee will be in effect through September 15. The late registration fee is $385; last day to register is 9/30. Please register early!

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The Erotic Reading Circle

Every fourth Wednesday at the Center for Sex and Culture

9/28, 7:30-9:30pm

suggested donation: $5+

Since 2006, we’ve been meeting on the fourth Wednesday of the month to share and celebrate the breadth of erotic artistry in the Bay Area!


The next Erotic Reading Circle meets on September 28, 7:30-9:30 at the Center for Sex and Culture,
1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (cross streets 9th and 10th). $5+ donation requested (no one turned away); donations support the Center for Sex and Culture. This month’s circle will be a collaborative effort with the Sex Worker’s Arts Festival events at the CSC!

Bring whatever you’re working on, or whatever you’d like to be working on.

Come join readers and share your erotic writing! Bring something to read or just be part of the appreciative circle of listeners. This is a great place to try out new work (ask for comments if you like), or get more comfortable reading for other people. Longtime writers will bring their latest… newly inspired writers, bring that vignette you scrawled on BART while daydreaming on your way to work. Carol Queen and Jen Cross host/facilitate this space dedicated to erotic writers and readers.

See you at the Circle!

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Reclaiming the Erotic Story
The Liberatory Potential of Writing Desire

November 12, 2011 – with Sacramento Sutterwriters

Can erotic writing liberate more than our libidos? Does greater comfort with sexual expression lead to greater agency in our communities? Many of us assume that the erotic is solely the province of the individual, and not the realm of social change or communal liberation – but what happens when we all have wider access to and more comfort with erotic language and sexual expression? The full breadth of our erotic power can challenge what our society teaches us about our sexuality, which is both damning and provocative when it comes to personal expression and human relationships.

When we bring our longing into the light and find common ground with others, when we risk exposing that which we’ve been trained to be ashamed of, I find that many of us step into a deeply empowered (and more embodied!) self.

In this workshop, we’ll take try out some explicit writing, and will consider how empowering a creative engagement with sexual identity, desire, and expression, as well as the ability to write out our fantasies and desire, can affect our intimate relationships, our communities and our work in the world.

The cost for this workshop is $100.  A $25 deposit would secure your place with the balance due on the day of the class (there will be a substantial discount for participants who attend this workshop and Write Whole on Sunday the 13th.)

If you are interested in attending, please give John Crandall a call at 916-708-9708 or an email at johnalbertcrandall@yahoo.com

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Write Whole – Survivors Write
For Survivors Of Sexual Trauma
November 13th, 2011 – with Sacramento Sutterwriters

Many of us who are survivors of sexual trauma feel fragmented or disjointed and have come to believe we must always live our lives this way.

In this Write Whole group, we are offered the opportunity to learn that we can live and feel whole in our experiences and desires – that we can create new art through writing, and transforming our pains and fears into power and love.


It bears repeating: Transforming our language is one way we transform our lives. Altering and expanding our language has the effect of changing who we know ourselves to be.

In this Write Whole workshop, 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.

The cost for this workshop is $100. A $25 deposit would secure your place with the balance due on the day of the class (there will be a substantial discount for participants who attend this workshop and Reclaiming The Erotic Story on Saturday the 12th.)


If you are interested in attending, please give John Crandall a call at 916-708-9708 or an email at johnalbertcrandall@yahoo.com

Phase 2 (7:15-8:15 pm)

friendluv & friendjealousy

stencil graffiti: your existence gives me hopeGood morning!

Listen, have you seen the movie Bridesmaids yet? Will you go see it, so that we can talk about it here?

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Quick reminder: Early bird registration for the Summer’11 writing workshops ends this Friday! The Write Whole: Survivors Write and Declaring Our Erotic begin on June 13 and June 16, respectively — I’m so looking forward to these workshops.  Please let me know if you have questions or would like to join us!

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I want to talk about friendjealousy, the kind that happens when your good friend has another friend/is amazing/has something you want, and you’re happyjealous, thrilled for them and aching with frustration all at the same time. I can actively remember feeling this, first, in elementary school, and it only grew. Maybe it’s fair to say that I felt it earlier, around my sister, but that gets into sisterlove & sisterjealousy, and that’s different.

I can’t tell you how much I identify with the main character in Bridesmaids, how much I’ve been thinking about friendjealousy recently, the ache to be the one and only bestfriend for your friend, that kind of deep and vulnerable love and desire. This is not the same thing as significant-other/lover jealousy: in some ways it can feel more knife-y, more difficult, more scary.

So, more on this soon. It’s a bigger topic than I have time for at this moment, but it’s throbbing around in me, wanting out onto the page. Maybe I can journal about it on the bus.

A prompt, though: friend-jealousy — have you and/or your characters experienced this? What are its contours — I mean, really, what’s its shape? What does it feel like inside your skin? What are you/your character jealous *of*? This might be something happening now, or something that happened back in high school — whatever arises as you read this prompt, begin there, and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go, for 10 or 15 or 20 minutes. Just let yourself write.

Thank you for your honesty about your feelings, even when it’s just deep inside the most secret places of you. Thank you for knowing what matters to you. Thank you for your words.

Write Whole and Declaring Our Erotic – 8 week workshops begin mid-June!

I’ve got the summer 8-week workshop schedule up, finally —

~Write Whole: Survivors Write
8 Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm, beginning 6/13
Open to all women survivors of sexual trauma
(Workshop held in downtown San Francisco)

o In the *Write Whole: Survivors Write* workshop, you’ll gather with other survivors of sexual trauma to create new art and new beauty out of life’s difficult and complicated realities. Learn to trust the flow of your own writing, and receive immediate feedback about the power of your words! Remember: we’re open to ALL women, and ‘survivor’ is self-defined!

~Declaring Our Erotic: Reclaiming our sexuality
8 Thursday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm, beginning 6/16
Open to all LGBT/Queer/SGL folks
(Workshop held in downtown San Francisco)

o We each need safe space in which to be our whole erotic selves. In the Declaring Our Erotic: Reclaiming our sexuality workshop, you’ll try your hand at some explicit erotic writing, and, in so doing, will get more comfortable exploring and talking about sexual desires, explore the varied and complex aspects of sexuality and desire, receive strong and focused feedback about your new writing!

Join us! The early bird rate ends soon!

Pre-registration is required. The fee for an 8-week session is $350. (I can generally work out payment plans; please contact me if you have question or concerns about payment.) There is a reduced-rate early bird fee of $315 if you register by May 20. The regular registration fee will be in effect through June 5. The late registration fee is $385 (this will be in effect June 5-June 12; June 12 is the last day to register). Please register early! A $75 deposit will confirm your space in the workshop.

No previous writing experience necessary. Unless otherwise noted, workshops held in San Francisco in an accessible space near BART and MUNI lines.

I’m looking forward to writing with you!

Upcoming workshops, SEAF & more!

sticker graffiti -- a woman squated down, in stockings, bra and wig, holding a frame around herself

found this image right after tour and thought, "Yup -- that's some femme energy right there."

Good morning, all!

Whew, the pollen has got me this year — are your allergies blowing up? I can’t remember the last time I had such a strong reaction, and yet all I can do when I pass by the new flowers, the electric new green leaves, the eucalyptus trees in full yellow polleny bloom, is to stick my face right in and grin.  I’m trying some homeopathic remedies before I go get the Claratin — bought some local honey, which will introduce my immune system to the local pollens in a gentler way, and let my body begin to build up a familiarity (which I rather thought it already had, but I think I was wrong!); we’ll see how that helps!

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We’ve got a few workshops coming up this month and next around Writing Ourselves Whole, and I’d love to write with you!

  • Saturday, May 14: Writing the Flood
  • Sat, May 28: Reclaiming our Erotic Story: the Liberatory Potential of Writing Desire
  • May 20-22: Seattle Erotic Art Festival
  • ETA: June 13-July 24: Reclaiming Our Erotic Story: The Liberating Power of Writing Desire – an online course!
  • Summer 2011 8-week writing workshops update!

Read on for more information about each of these events— and visit our Sign Up page to register!

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Writing the Flood

May 14, 2011*, 1-4:30pm

Writing The Flood is a writing group for anyone looking to prime the writing pump: using the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we will write together in response to exercises designed to get those pens moving, and get onto the page the stories, poems, essays, images and voices that have been stuck inside for too long.  This is a time to work on a larger project, get started on new work, play on the page, or write yourself through a block and back into your writing voice.

Unless otherwise noted, this workshop meets on the third Saturday of the month. $50 (with a sliding scale). Limited to 12. Register or email me with questions: jennifer@writingourselveswhole.org.

Summer 2011 dates:

  • Saturday, May 14
  • Saturday, June 18
  • Saturday, July 16

*We’re meeting this month on the second instead of the third Saturday because on May 21 I’ll be in Seattle at the Seattle Erotic Art Festival, presenting my writing and hopefully leading a workshop in that gorgeous wet city!

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Reclaiming our Erotic Story: the Liberatory Potential of  Writing Desire

May 28, 2011, 10:00AM-5:00PM

(breakfast provided from 9:30-10)

Sutterwriters Sacramento

Can erotic writing liberate more than our libidos? Does greater comfort with sexual expression lead to greater agency in our communities?

Many of us assume that the erotic is solely the province of the individual, and not the realm of social change or communal liberation – but what happens when we all have wider access to and more comfort with erotic language and sexual expression? The full breadth of our erotic power can challenge what our society teaches us about our sexuality, which is both damning and provocative when it comes to personal expression and human relationships.

I’ve led erotic writing workshops since 2002, and what I’ve found is that writing our desire, in a safe community of engaged and encouraging peer writers, can allow us the space to challenge the negative messages we’ve internalized about sexuality and about our core desires and even our very being. When we bring our longing into the light and find common ground with others, when we risk exposing that which we’ve been trained to be ashamed of, I find that many of us step into a deeply empowered (and more embodied!) self.

In this workshop, we’ll try out some explicit writing, and will consider how empowering a creative engagement with sexual identity, desire, and expression, as well as the ability to write out our fantasies and desire, can affect our intimate relationships, our communities and our work in the world.

The cost for this workshop is $100.  A $25 deposit would secure your place, with the balance due on the day of the class.

To register, contact

John Crandall
Crandall Writers
P.O. Box 22612
Sacramento, California 95822
916-708-9708

john@fireartsofsacramento.com

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Seattle Erotic Art Festival

May 20-22, Seattle, WA

“The Seattle Erotic Art Festival supports a vibrant creative community, promotes freedom of expression, and fosters sex-positive culture through public celebration of the arts.”

Come join me in Seattle for this amazing celebration of erotic art! There will be performance, film, readings, workshops and, of course, afterparties — this event is put on by the Center for Sex Positive Culture, which we got to check out a couple of years ago during the Body Heat West Coast tour. I can’t wait to go back! I get to participate in the Literary Arts part of the Festival:

This year’s Literary Art Exhibition will feature 26 poems, 12 short stories, and readings by many of Seattle’s hottest erotic spoken word artists, all presented in a lush and intimate boudoir setting. New this year: selected poets will write pieces inspired by the visual art, then conduct a daily “Poet’s Favorite” walking tour. Learn more at: http://seattle-erotic.org/2011/04/28/literary-highlights/.

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Reclaiming Our Erotic Story: The Liberating Power of Writing Desire

An online course, offered by the Transformative Language Arts Network. Open to all!

June 13-July 24

Can erotic writing liberate more than our libidos? Does greater comfort with sexual expression lead to greater agency in our communities? In this workshop, we’ll write together, and consider how empowering a more expansive relationship with sexual identity and desire affects our social change/organizing work in the world.

$189 Transformative Language Arts Network members; $210 for non-members

Visit the link above to register or with questions! I look forward to writing with you!

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Summer 2011 8-week workshop schedules are almost ready (this includes Write Whole: Survivors Write and Declaring Our Erotic (open to all queer survivors of sexual trauma)). I’m sorry for the delay on these — during my hiatus from these workshops, I’ve been learning to listen closer to my body, so that I could figure out a schedule that will work best alongside the self-care work that I’ve also begun. This is new learning! We will begin in early June, and I’ll be contacting all previous writers and folks who’re on the waiting lists with the schedule before I announce it publicly.