Tag Archives: upcoming

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!

what we attend to shapes us

Labyrinth Habitat mural by Johanna Poehig;  I wake up from layered and complicated dreams. There are things I want to tell you about, but it’s not time for them yet. The alarm goes off at 4, and I think, I could just snooze for a little bit, and then I forget to press snooze, and now it’s after 5.

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The Fall writing workshop series begins next week — Write Whole: Survivors Write starts on Monday, and we do still have a couple of spaces left! Friday is the last day to register — if you have been thinking about joining us and giving yourself and your stories a regular, weekly writing time, please do contact me.

Tonight’s the Erotic Reading Circle at the Center for Sex and Culture; a good time for me to go through recent notebooks and find a story that I want to work more with. Have you seen the  call for submissions for Sex Still Spoken Here, the Erotic Reading Circle anthology? If you’ve participated in this latest round of the erotic reading circle (since about 2006), we want your stories and poems!

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We’ve started leaving the door to the puppy’s kennel open at night, so she can get up and come out when she’s ready in the morning. So far, she seems to stay in there all night, only getting out after I’ve been up and at the computer working for awhile. Right now she’s here with me in the office, digging behind the office door for something. All I hear is snuffling and claws scraping carpet, not hard, but persistent. I say her name, and she stops. She’s ready to go outside, but it’s still dark out. When she first came home with us, it was light at 4 or 4:30, and we could go out then. The earth’s rotation is thwarting our early morning walk.

There’s something about putting the work we believe in the most at a centered place in our day. How does that work for you? For me, it means writing first — whether that’s journaling, morning pages, blogging, freewriting on a story. Not editing, but generating new words, first thing in my day.

A message I heard this weekend talked about this idea that what we pay attention to, what we attend to, reveals what we love, and shapes who we’re about to be:

Attention is a tangible measure of love. Whatever receives our time and attention becomes the center of gravity, the focus of our life. This is what we do with what we love: We allow it to become our center.

What is the center of your life? Carefully examine where you spend your attention, your time. Look at your appointment book, your daily schedule. These things – these meetings, errands, responsibilities – this is where you dedicate your precious days, hours, and moments. This is what receives your care and attention – and, by definition, your love.

We become what we love. Whatever you are giving your time and attention to, day after day, this is the kind of person you will eventually become. Is this what you want?

— Wayne Muller

When I was listening to this message, I was thinking about how I shoved what I loved most to the far edges of my life, for years, in order to protect those things: writing, femininity, deep connection with other people. What I actually paid attention to was my stepfather’s desires, how he wanted me to be in the world, the work he expected me to do. That, plus I paid attention to his moods and emotions — I did these things, attended to these things, for my own survival. So, what did this reveal about what I loved? That I loved him more than writing? That I loved his moods more than my mother’s or my sister’s? I certainly gave his more attention —

I understand the core of this message, this idea: what we focus on shapes our days, shapes what will come for us. If I spend three hours writing today, I have that writing to work with tomorrow, and I am closer to having something to submit to an anthology next week. If I spend five minutes today attending to the state of my own body, I may be beginning a pattern that will let my body know that its states of being matter to me — what does that mean? I mean, if I pay attention to my body today, by next week, I might be sitting or moving differently because I paid attention to what my body needed. Every small action toward or in service of what we love builds up that place in us. Think about a ball of rubber bands: begin with one tiny band, add one more and one more, do this over a period of months, and you end up with a baseball-sized collection. Small actions, small attentions, add up to big ones.

Let this be a write for today: what aren’t you or your character attending to that you want to be? Take 10 minutes for that part of yourself today, and write about it. Or write about how you make space for what you love by attending to it. Just turn your attention to a part of yourself (or apart of your character) that you want to grow, and let the writing flow from there. (This could be a good morning for a love letter to the body, if it’s the body that needs some attention.)

Follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go. And be easy with you, ok? One small step, every day, that’s all. That’s powerful beginning.

Thank you for your attentiveness, your witness, your awareness, your tender ferocity. Thank you for your words!

it adds up

graffiti -- mosaic sunflowerBack to the regular schedule today — good morning out there!

Today the clouds are bulbous and full of pink. What’s the sky like outside your window?

The forecast is for 56 degrees in San Francisco today. I talk to Kathleen in Atlanta, where it’s been in the 90s with tremendous humidity. What can we say about summer except hello?

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I’ve updated the calendar page with the Fall & Winter workshop schedules — let me know if you want to be on the waiting list for those groups!

The upcoming Declaring Our Erotic workshops will be open to everyone — folks of all genders & sexual orientations! I’m considering doing the same with my Winter 2012 Write Whole workshops — opening it up to all survivors of sexual trauma, regardless of sex or gender. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

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I have to get in the shower soon. Yesterday, I spent a couple hours going back through my blog, and read that line quite a few times. I’m gathering up material for a couple of book projects and one article — and I realized just how much writing I’ve got in here. In spite of the days of frustration, in spite of often feeling like I don’t have enough time to write anything, it turns out that in just the year or so that I’ve been blogging approximately 5 days a week, even just for a few minutes, I’ve generated a lot of usable writing.

10 minutes every day for 30 days adds up — for 6 months, adds up. For a year? Yes. Start now. Just keep writing. I know it’s not enough in this moment — but the moments coalesce, and you’re building something, even if, in these 10 minutes, it doesn’t feel like you are.

Take a few minutes right now, and jot down a list of things you want to write about — questions or memories or stories you’re working on, or wishing you were working on. Write the list at the back of your notebook, or in a note on your phone, or into a new document on your computer.

Then let one of those topics choose you, and just devote 10 minutes to it today. Let the words flow. Start with, “What I really want to say about ____ is…”  — don’t stop to edit or process the right place to begin. Editing comes later. Just generate the material.

I’m grateful for you today. I’m grateful for your presence, your process, the creation that you are — and for your words, too, yes, always.

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


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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.

release and cleansing

graffiti of a flock of birds in silhouette, seeming to emerge from a curved stone stairwayGot to wake up with the birds today — up and out walking through the just-breaking dawn, and quiet neighborhoods suddenly clipped alive here, then there, then there, with bird calls. Coming home, a goldfinch couple landed on the fence just as I approached. Good morning!

Walked through some quiet downtown neighborhoods I hadn’t yet visited in our year here — where will we be at the end of this month? Where is the next home? Said hello to pups out for walks, to people visiting their cars and cats and kids. (What does that mean?) Said hello to the morning flowers and the thin, pale rose coloring the edge of the sky as the sun arose.


A beautiful workshop on Saturday in Sacramento — a day of claiming and reclaiming our erotic story! It was such a gift to be with 13 incredible writers, to get to play around in the language of desire for a day, to step into that bawdy embodiment in community — thanks to all who were there! Lots of laughter, some ragged edgings of tears, and plenty of flushed cheeks: we were grateful for the cool tule fog outside once it was time to break for lunch!


Coming up next:

  • Writing Transitions this Saturday, Feb 5! Are you or your characters preparing to move through some transitions? Join us Saturday for Writing Transitions, and give yourself the opportunity to write into your own, possibly surprising, possibilities while supporting Writing Ourselves Whole!
  • Writing the Flood on Saturday, Feb 12! (this month, Writing the Flood meets on the second instead of the third Saturday, so we can have one more meeting in the Flood building before the big move!)

I love these writing Saturdays — we take the day or an afternoon and devote that time to living into our creative discovery and play. What a powerful group of folks to get to be a part of!


Plenty of transitions going on around these parts, and lots of old fears and worries and sorrows are emerging in the space created by slowing down and moving my body more. This is what I wanted and what I was afraid of: if I stop all the racing around, then everything I’ve been running from will catch up with me.

Right. Hello again.

How to move through all of this that I spent years avoiding? How to avoid feeling like I will never be free of this sorrow, that loss?

Keep walking, and let the tears come. Read, watch movies, let friends in, keep stretching. This is not supposed to be comfortable (remember?) — comfortable is what got you here. This is new growth, and growing pains hurt.

Reading through Pinkola Estés again, this time, La Selva Subterranea (p. 404-405):  “There are times in a woman’s life when she cries and cries and cries, and even though she has the succor and support of her loves ones, still and yet she cries. Something in this crying keeps the predator away, keeps away unhealthy desire or gain that will run her. Tears are a part of the mending of rips in the psyche where energy as leaked and leaked away. The matter is serious, but the worst does not occur–our light is not stolen–for tears make us conscious. There is no chance to go back to sleep when one is weeping.”

This is not just true for women, I think.

It feels, so often, like the tears will never end — but they do, when it’s time for them to. Are there unexplainable tears coming right now, or tears that feel continuous or constant? Can you let them come with out shame or self-blame? Is one of your characters in a place of many many tears? Is there wisdom in these tears, in this place of release and cleansing? What are the tears bringing up?

Thank you for all of your wise healing ways, every urge and strategy and mechanism that your brave and resilient self has crafted to bring you through to this right now. Thank you for your creativity, your words.