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Winter ’18 Workshop Schedule: We’re Back!

Companer@, I know that you are hurting but you are still alive you will survive and together we will dismantle the systems that broke our heartsHello writers & writers-to-be!

I am delighted to announce that we’ll be offering a full workshop schedule beginning next year! While it’s been good to have a break from the work of running a business while I was in school, I have very much missed the energy and power of the groups — and given all that’s happening in the world these days, there’s just about no place I’d rather be than in a room full of powerhouse writers laying claim to their own voices and words.

As we move into this time of fertile dark and reflection, you may find yourself seeking a space that can hold the fullness and complexity of your deepest stories. At Writing Ourselves Whole, we believe in the power of story, the joy of writing, and the breadth of human creative resilience. We believe that community can hold, witness and celebrate the stories that we have been told are unspeakable.

Here are the writing opportunities we have coming up this beginning next year at Writing Ourselves Whole:

~Write Whole: Survivors Write
Open to all trauma survivors
8 Wednesday evenings, 6:30-9:00pm, beginning January 10

o In the *Write Whole: Survivors Write* workshop, you’ll gather with other trauma survivors 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 trauma survivors, and ‘survivor’ is self-defined! Fee is $375; partial scholarships are available for all trauma-centered writing groups. 

~Meridian Writers
A general-topic group open to all writers!
8 Wednesday mornings, 9:30am-12:00pm, beginning January 10

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: $425. Fees from this workshop support scholarships for Writing Ourselves Whole’s workshops for trauma survivors.

~Writing the Flood
Drop in and write!
Third Saturday of every month, 1-4:30pm
Upcoming groups meet on November 18, December 16, and January 20

o *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. Fee for this workshop is $25-50, sliding scale.

~ Dive Deep
An advanced, manuscript-centered workgroup
First 2018 cohort opens to new members on Thursday, January 4

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 $225/month, with a three-month commitment required; the group will remain closed for those three months, in order to give Divers the opportunity to set long-term goals in an established and supportive community.

~ Write Whole Online
Open to all sexual trauma survivors
6-week online writing group begins on Sunday, January 7

o *Online Writing Groups* are designed for those unable to attend in-person workshops, or for those uncomfortable with or less inclined toward joining us in person. Participation in the writing groups is all asynchronous: you access exercises and readings, write and post your responses, and offer feedback on others’ writings as works best for your schedule. No special software required–just a web browser, Internet connection, and desire to write into your deepest stories. Fee: $250 (sliding scale).

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.

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Write Whole: Survivors Write — new group begins on May 1!

After a two-year hiatus, I’ve scheduled a new session of our survivor-centered group, Write Whole: Survivors Write to begin next month. Please let me know if you’d like to join us!

~Write Whole: Survivors Write
8 Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30pm, beginning May 1
For women survivors of sexual trauma

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. We freewrite together 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. Learn to trust the flow of your own writing, and receive immediate feedback about the power of your words in a supportive, transformative, and survivor-centered community.

This group is open to all who identify as women, and ‘survivor’ is intended to be self-defined as well. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re worried about whether or not you’d “fit.”

Pre-registration is required. The fee for an 8-week session is $375. (I can generally work out payment plans; please contact me if you have question or concerns about payment.) Please register early! A $75 deposit will confirm your space in the workshop.

No previous writing experience necessary. We’ll meet in El Cerrito in a beautiful garden space, 1.5 blocks from BART and close to other public transportation.

Please contact me with any questions. I’m looking forward to writing with you!

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announcing Writing Ourselves Whole: the book <3

Cover of book - Writing Ourselves Whole: Using the power of your own creativity to recover and heal from sexual trauma
The book! Now available for pre-order!

Good morning, good morning. Outside my window, it’s still dusky, but the light is coming. Yesterday the puppy barked several times at neighbors walking by below the second fence in the backyard — she was talking to the deer that use that treelined stretch as a safe boulevard from one bit of preserved land to another. I said to the puppy, I wish you’d just say hello to them, maybe make them feel a little more welcome, a little less harassed. I’d like to say that to the folks in and around the White House these days, too, but I think they’d be less receptive than my dog.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a struggle for me not to just hide inside my shell a lot for the last several months. Things often feel hopeless right now. Maybe you feel triggered all the time, or a lot more often than usual. Maybe you’ve been going to every protest you hear about. Maybe the protests don’t work for you. Maybe you’re like me—spinning, anxious, unable to stay focused on one thing for very long. I tell my therapist that I’ve been more irritable lately, more impatient, quicker to anger — she says that she’s hearing this from many, many people. I think that we are so afraid, and so sad—and really fucking angry.

In order to get through this time of madness, I think we’re going to have to be more creative, more inventive, take more risks, and find deeper pathways into “right relationship” with our creative intuition, that steady inside voice that so many of us have been trained to ignore. We’re going to have to write and sing and dance and paint and sculpt and craft and build and climb and grow.

I want to tell you that, this summer, my book, Writing Ourselves Whole: Using the power of your own creativity to recover and heal from sexual trauma, is coming out from Mango Media. (I’m incredibly excited and terrified about this.) It’s a collection of essays that tangle with the most important topics to my heart: writing as a practice of healing and transformation for survivors of sexual trauma, what I’ve learned in more than ten years (now almost fifteen!) writing with survivors (and others), and about kindness and generosity—what do we as a country need now more than a deeply-held ethic of kindness and generosity?

In some ways, the book is as easy and hard to describe as the groups are — they sound simple, straight-forward: writing groups for survivors of sexual abuse. Nothing unusual or even new about that. But once folks are in the room—something like magic happens. There’s connection and grace, openness, love, hope, a space for creativity and even wanting that had been shut down, sometimes for years. There’s space for those stories we were told never to tell, space for us to find and share our truest languages, space for our hiddenest parts to be witnessed, and to get to offer witness to others—space to experience ourselves as creators, as artists, as wordsmiths, as writers.

This is the presence and invitation I hope the book can offer to readers as well.

I think we’re going to need each other even more to get through these difficult times, to sustain ourselves, to nurture and support, and one of the ways we can do that in community is to create together. Writing Ourselves Whole is also for survivors who want to start peer writing groups in their own communities. There are many exercises, of course — one of the hardest things was to winnow down almost fifteen years’ worth of prompts.

My hope is that the Writing Ourselves Whole will feel like a companion voice, will help survivor-readers to feel less isolated, and, above all, will spur readers to write, to open their own notebooks and start to spill out the words that have been building up inside. It includes essays about my own experience of long-term trauma survival, how writing has been the thing I could hold on to when nothing else seemed to work, or when I was too broke for (or too scared about) therapy, or when I felt lost and alone and abandoned: writing been the one steady thing in my life over the last twenty-some years since I got away from the man who’d been abusing me.

Given the difficulty we’re living in and through, I hope this book can encourage survivors to take care of ourselves, trust our instincts, take risks, let our voices out, to trust and recognize that our voices are needed. Your voice is needed. I want to encourage us to keep on taking care of our bodies, to take care of our hearts, to trust and appreciate that desire is still allowed—if we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot sustain the struggle for the long-term. And this is long-term struggle we’re engaged in, whether we’re battling this so-called government or we’re just talking about living with trauma.

I’ll be sharing excerpts from the book, to give you all a sense of what’s going to be inside — but if you’ve participated in any group with me, I think you’ll recognize the voice in this book. It’s a voice that adores you and your words (for real, though), that is so grateful that you’re there with a pen, that cannot wait to hear what you have to say.

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Fearless Words: A free writing workshop for women survivors begins May 26!

San Francisco Women Against Rape is once again offering the Fearless Words Creative Writing Workshop for women survivors of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and child sexual abuse. Group begins May 26. Eight Tuesday evenings, 6-8pm at The Women’s Building San Francisco (18th and Valencia). Woman-identified writers of all levels are invited to attend this workshop, created especially for survivors of sexual violence to discover our voices, create political dialogue and develop our craft as writers, while using writing as a medium of healing and transformation. Facilitated by Jen Cross, this group is free, wheelchair accessible, and runs 8 weeks. Call Tabitha at 415/861-2024 for a short intake interview or for more information. Thank you!

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Fierce Hunger at LitCrawl 2014!

Hummingbird graffiti - OaklandWriting Ourselves Whole goes to Lit Crawl!
Saturday, October 18, 6-7pm
at the Women’s Building, Room B
3543 18th St., San Francisco, CA
FREE!

Join us on October 18 for Writing Ourselves Whole’s stop on the infamous LitQuake Lit Crawl!

The theme of our reading will be Fierce Hunger: At the intersection of desire and trauma, longing takes many forms. Join us as Writing Ourselves Whole writers name what survivors are starving for. Readers include Eanlai Cronin, Manish Vaidya, Renee Garcia, Blyth Barnow, Seeley Quest, and Jen Cross.

Please note: This reading will include explicit sexual content.

http://www.litquake.org/events/writing-ourselves-whole

Reader Bios:

Eanlai Cronin just completed her first memoir Girl in Irish. She leads writing workshops for those in recovery from chronic illness, PTSD, addiction and small Irish villages!

Manish Vaidya is the Artistic Director of Peacock Rebellion, a crew of queer and trans people of color who make art for social justice.

Renee Garcia is a fat, queer, disabled, femme writer and sex educator living in the Bay Area, and the founder of Write The Fuck Now: writethefucknow.tumblr.com

Blyth Barnow is a writer and community organizer focused on nuanced stories of survival. More of her work can be found at  missfist.blogspot.com

Seeley Quest is a trans performer who has featured around the Bay Area since 2001, as well as in Vancouver, Toronto, and numerous US cities and colleges.  See more of hir work at sinsinvalid.org

Jen Cross is the founder and facilitator of Writing Ourselves Whole, which has offered transformative writing groups to trauma survivors and others since 2003.