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Brief Write Whole postponement and more…

Just a quick note! We have had to briefly postpone the start of our Winter Write Whole session – we now begin next Wednesday, 1/17! We still have a few spaces available in that group, so contact me if you’d like to join us!

Here’s what we’ve got coming up this month:

~Write Whole: Survivors Write
Open to women sexual trauma survivors
8 Wednesday evenings, 6:30-9:00pm,
January 17-March 7

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 women, 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 – begins tomorrow!
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
Except for this month, when we meet on January 27 (because: women’s marches on 1/20!)

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.

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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What’s coming up at Writing Ourselves Whole (Fall 2014)

It may not feel like it much these days, but fall has arrived in the Bay Area. The young folks are back to school, and the words you put on hold during the busyness of summer are whispering to you again: It’s time to write.

Give yourself the support, structure, and community that you and your writing deserve; come and join us at one of our many writing groups and workshops.

Here’s what’s coming up around Writing Ourselves Whole:

Write Whole-Survivors Write.
Open to all survivors of trauma

8 Monday evenings beginning October 13, 2014.
Fee: $365 (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

Next Flood Write meets Saturday, October 18, 1-4:30pm
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
(And mark your calendars now for the rest of the year: November 15, December 20.)

Writing Ourselves Whole goes to Lit Crawl!
Saturday, October 18, 6-7pm
at the Women’s Building, 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.

Dirty Words – Sacramento
A day-long erotic writing group
November 8, 10am-5pm
Offered through AWA Sacramento
Ever read through a sexy short story and thought, “I’d like to do that!” Join this fun and supportive group of writers and dive into your own sexy words! This group is designed to leave you more confident with sexual language, erotic expression, and your own writing practice. In this AWA-model workshop, we’ll spend the day writing joy back into our bodies and our desire. Discover how empowering a creative engagement with sexuality, sensuality, desire, and fantasy can be. Receive immediate and concrete feedback about what’s already working (and hot!) in your writing, and leave with strong new work. Bring your notebooks or laptops and your most open mind.  No previous experience necessary! Fee for this day-long writing group is $100. To register, please contact John Crandall of Crandall Writers at 916-708-9708 or johnalbertcrandall@yahoo.com.
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No previous writing experience necessary! All workshops facilitated by Jen CrossEmail Jen with any questions, or visit our contact page to register!

Your facilitator Jen Cross founded Writing Ourselves Whole in 2003. She facilitates sexuality and sexual trauma survivors writing workshops in Oakland, CA, and across the country. Jen holds an MA in Transformative Language Arts, and her fiction and creative nonfiction have been widely anthologized.

Writing Ourselves Whole believes in the power of transformative writing practice in community to restory individual trauma experience and restore those parts of ourselves we are trained to hide. We believe in the power of story, the joy of writing, and the depth of human creative resilience.

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What’s coming up at Writing Ourselves Whole

Do you have some writing to do this summer? Let us provide the support, structure, and community that you deserve; come and join us at one of our many writing groups and workshops. Here’s what’s the summer schedule looks like around Writing Ourselves Whole!

Write Whole-Survivors Write. Open to all survivors of trauma
8 Monday evenings beginning July 28, 2014.
Fee: $365 (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.

Dive Deep: An advanced manuscript/project workgroup
Our SummerFall 2014 Cohort is full. The next series begins January 2015
Fee: $200/month (6-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 Online writing group
6-week summer sessions begins July 20, 2014
If you are not able or comfortable joining an in-person group, we offer online groups as well. This summer, our Write Whole: Survivors Write online is open to all women survivors of sexual trauma. No special software required — just a computer, an internet connection, and the desire to write in supportive community. Fee is $225.

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, July 19. (And mark your calendars now for the rest of the summer: August 16, September 20.)

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!

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Celebrate WriOursWhoMo with your own writing!

What better way to honor Writing Ourselves Whole Month than by giving yourself the opportunity to let your own words flow. Come and join us at one of our many writing spaces. Here’s our upcoming schedule:

One-with-One, Private Writing Sessions   
Get your writing out and onto the page in a private writing session with Jen. We will talk together about your vision for your writing practice or project, and Jen will develop individualized prompts to help free up your words, reconnect with your creative instinct, and release what wants to be written. Sessions held in person (in your home or in a cafe) or via Skype. Fee for these sessions is $125/hour. Contact Jen for more information or with questions.

Write Whole-Survivors Write. Open to all survivors of trauma
8 Monday evenings beginning April 21, 2013.
Fee: $365 (ask about scholarship/payment plan, if needed)
A survivor-centered, supportive, and transformative creative writing community, 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, April 19, 1-4:30 pm.
Mark your calendars now: May 17, June 14, July 16.

Dirty Words-San Francisco.  A monthly erotic writing group
Meets the fourth Saturday of every month
Limited to 12. Fee is $50 (with a sliding scale)
Meets in San Francisco at the Center for Sex and Culture
(1349 Mission in San Francisco)
Join this fun and supportive group of writers and dive into your own sexy and surprising new writing! No previous writing experience necessary!
Next Dirty Words meets April 26, 1-4:30 pm!

Create the space in your spring 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!

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Fall workshop schedule at Writing Ourselves Whole

graffiti of a butterfly hovering a branch that contains two nests of heartsFall is upon us, and many folks are in the back-to-school mode. Maybe you’re ready to pull out those composition books and let your words flow. Maybe you’re finished with summer’s travels and are ready to settle back into a relationship with your words. Maybe you’re ready to find community support for your stories. Whatever your reasons, join us in a group or workshop this fall, and write yourself whole:

Write Whole-Survivors Write. Open to all survivors of trauma
8 Monday evenings beginning October 14, 2013.
Fee: $350
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.

Reclaiming Our Erotic Story: Open to all women
8 Tuesday evenings beginning October 15, 2013.
Fee: $350
Meets in private workshop space in Oakland, near Lake Merritt.
Safe space in which to explore our gorgeously complicated erotic selves! Find community around the complexity of desire — and transform your relationship with your creativity and your sexuality! — as you try your hand at explicit erotic writing.

Online writing groups
6-week summer sessions begin October 13, 2013
Final group offered at introductory fee of $100-150.
If you are not comfortable joining an in-person group, we offer online groups as well. This summer, our Write Whole: Survivors Write online is open to all queer/LGBTQ survivors of trauma; Reclaiming Our Erotic Story online is open to all women. No special software required — just a computer, internet connection, and desire to write in supportive community.

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, September 21 (waiting list available).
Mark your calendars now for the Fall Flood Writes: Oct 19, Nov 16, Dec 21.

Dive Deep: An advanced manuscript/project workgroup
Next series begins begins January 2014
Fee: $200/month (multiple-month commitment)
Limited to 6 members per group; contact me to be added to the waiting list for the first DD of 2014.
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.

Create the space this fall for your good words. All workshops facilitated by Jen Cross. Email me with any questions, or visit our contact page to register. I look forward to writing with you!

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the body stories that rupture, fray and enumerate

(click on the image for a translation of the poem — beautiful)

Good morning this morning — how is your heart today? How are your lungs? How is that good belly? This morning I have the green-and-mint tea, I have the quiet, sleeping puppy, the low candle, the songs resonating a heavy thrum in my chest. This morning I’m thinking about the ways we write our bodies, and the ways we don’t — the stories we tell repeatedly, and the stories that live underneath those, quiet, longing, hidden.

What are the body stories you’re telling yourself this morning? What are the stories still waiting to be told?

Our two online writing groups — Write Whole and Reclaiming Our Erotic Story — got officially underway yesterday. Over the next six weeks, I’ll be writing with twelve folks from around the country (I think we’re not international this time around; I’ll have to confirm that!), sharing over the digital airwaves the stories that our bodies hold — the delicious stories and the difficult stories.

There are some body stories I’d like to share this morning, but those I’ll scribble into the notebook, I think.

There are the private stories, the ones we just tell ourselves. There are the stories we whisper into the ears of lovers. There are the body stories we are willing to describe to our friends, the stories our parents know, the stories we built with our siblings — there are the body stories inscribed on the landscape around wherever we spent our earliest years. All these stories live in our skin and bones and also are conversations among blood and bone and time and place: when we return to those places, the old stories sing in us. Or keen. Or wail. Or laugh. Or all of the above.

The truth is that we are always an interweave of our delicious and difficult body stories — the stories that animate our limbs, the stories that weigh us, that give us heft and history, the stories that rupture, fray and enumerate.

Our public stories — the ones we share at parties, at podia, on applications and resumes and CVs and at job interviews, the stories we tell first when we meet new friends, new lovers — those are only the top layer of us, aren’t they? These are body stories, too, though: our work and schooling, our efforts, our labor or lack thereof; how we have spent what time we’ve been given, to what we turn our attention.

In our writing practice and writing groups, I like to invite us to go underneath those first stories, the commonly-told ones, the stories that have taken on a sheen and burnish from having been brought out and polished so very often. Our American narrative (is this true in other parts of the Western world as well? And elsewhere?) teaches us that we are to be a single trajectory, a single story, a build from small to large, a growing and garnering, a forever-repudiating what came before in favor of the one true story that we are (over and over) finally able to tell. But all of our body stories are true stories — even the ones that don’t resonate or feed us anymore. I want to know what stories we have in our bodies that contradict our primary narrative — those are often the stories that we are scared to tell, because we are afraid they will bifurcate us, will untether us from a particular knowing (or being known), will take us apart from our constancy and our certainty.

And of course, they will. Because we are already inconstant, undulant, mobile — in our beingness, in our existence, we are both whole and fragments. This is the beauty of our stories: they can reveal the full complexity that is our now, our yes, our “lovely, soupy existence” (as Anne Lamott puts it).

What happens when we release ourselves into the fullness of our body’s stories? What happens for our bodies? What happens for our hearts?

The book I’m working on now has to do with our body stories and how we learn to tell them, share them, even find language for them — I’ll be sharing some thoughts about this in this month’s newsletter, which goes out today.

What’s the body story that most wants writing today? Can you give ten minutes, get that story out on the page? Or maybe that story wants to write itself in a run, or a dance, or with paint, or singing loud and hard in the car — let some of it out today, ok? Let some of it out.

I’m grateful for every single story in that powerhouse body of yours. Thank you for your complicated truths today. Thank you for your words.

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Fearless Words: A free writing workshop for women survivors (with SFWAR!)

San Francisco Women Against Rape is offering our Fearless Words Creative Writing Workshop for women survivors of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment and child sexual abuse. Group begins August 28. Eight Wednesdays, 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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I believe in the topology of regeneration

This is a new day. My body is sleepy, thick with desire for the covers. The candle blossoms new color into the dark room, and I am here with these early words. Fit me into the couch cushions, cover me with my mother-knitted afghan, hand me my tea cup and my novel. What do these words want from me today? What do your words want from you?

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I have two survivors workshops going right now, one in person (Write Whole) and one online. Last night was the third meeting of the spring Write Whole session, and got to be amazed at how deep the writing went, and how fast. We wrote hard about memory and grief, and in-between writes, we talked and connected and laughed. We wrote anguish and struggle last night, and after the workshop was over, I felt energized, lighter, and so grateful. It was a big one last night.

Sometimes people say, when I share with them about the work that I do, “Oh, that must be so hard.” I don’t know how to convey to them how much it’s not hard. How grateful I am every time I’m in the presence of a story that was never supposed to be told, how I appreciate the effort and risk involved in sharing brand new words, how honored I am to get to be in circle, over and over, with writers who are willing to language what we are trained never to be able to say. That’s not hard, I want to tell people; that’s a gift! Continue reading “I believe in the topology of regeneration”

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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)