Welcome to The Club!

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The Berkeley Branch is the founding branch of the oldest professional writers’ club West of the Missisippi.

CWC Berkeley Branch welcomes all California Writers Club members and guests to our monthly speaker program and affordable workshops on the art and business of writing.

Join us for our upcoming event:

“Creative Awakening
in the New Year”
with Albert Flynn DeSilver

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Click here to commit to your writing career.

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An Interview with This Sunday’s Speaker, Albert Flynn DeSilver, on Writing as a Path to Awakening

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This Sunday, Jan. 20th, Albert Flynn DeSilver will show us how to take our writing to that next mysterious level. What happens when life gets in the way? How does our writing practice open us up emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually? DeSilver will teach us the steps we can take to stay focused, to stave off fear, doubt, and procrastination. He’ll also tackle issues with editing, completion, agents, and publication.

But first get to know poet, memoirist, and novelist, Albert Flynn DeSilver in this conversation he had with our speaker chair, Cristina Deptula.

What are some ways that writers and creators can heal from addictions and other struggles? Can writing be a tool in personal recovery? 

Albert Flynn DeSilver
Albert Flynn DeSilver will be our keynote speaker for Sunday’s meeting

Writing is the ultimate tool, for becoming more conscious, more compassionate—first with our selves and then with the world at large. But it’s not just writing. In order to get conscious we have to slow way down, be still, sit in silence, or stretch, move, walk in silence. Let nature be our sounding board and mirror. Regular mindfulness meditation practice is an excellent gateway to awareness and therefore healing. How do we know what we think and feel until we write it down, or speak it aloud? We want to become more open to the totality of ourselves. That includes shining light on the dark parts, coming to understanding and then self compassion. A great therapist, support groups, a healthy diet and exercise are also essential. It’s never just one thing that heals us but many voices.

Do you think that writerly types are especially prone to certain struggles? There are all those tragic artist stereotypes—is there truth to that? Are there certain ways we can organize our lives as writers to stay both creative and healthy? 

To a certain extent, yes. I mean writers, musicians, artists of all kinds tend to open themselves to the rawness and immediacy of experience, they don’t look away, when others do. They tend to move toward the visceral and emotional elements with a certain willingness to investigate awareness, clarity, complexity—to be sensitive observers of the human condition. This is not without its dangers. As we expose ourselves to the great mysteries of human consciousness and experience, shunning little, opening much, we enter the unknown, the unpredictable, the risky. But of course that’s where the magic and juice of life lies (not to mention, the great stories).

As to organizing our lives, yes, we can remember this very fact of our vulnerabilities and sensitivities—if that’s true for us and take care of the wild body and roving emotions. This is why I wrote Writing as a Path to Awakening, to remind us to take care, to get quiet, be still, eat well, hydrate, move your body, be generous and kind. The world needs conscious kindness more than anything right now.  

Do you need to go to retreats or travel in order to enhance and awaken your creativity and awareness or can you do something in your own daily life and practice? 

No. Not at all. It’s always available in any given place, at any moment I actually am willing to buck-up and surrender to reality. Of course travel for me is a great inspiration, but ultimately I’ve found I don’t write that much when I’m traveling, outside of notes and keeping track of experience. Daily life is where the creative and spiritual rubber hits the road. One can travel magically far, internally in the comfort and safety of their own home via silence and in turn exploring the vastness of their imagination. Taking time to reconnect with that infinite wellspring of creativity via silence and time in nature is essential for me in order to stay connected to the deeper truths and imaginative dynamism that I want to share with the world in my writing.

You write both prose and poetry. Do you approach writing in different genres differently? 

The process is different. Poetry mind is different than fiction mind. I like to fill my heart, mind, and body with poetry and the poetics of the world when I’m writing poetry or thinking about taking on a new poetry project. Same with fiction. I want to fill my soul with stories, great novels, voices and dialogue, character, and settings—so I read lots of novels. With fiction and other prose, at the onset I free write a lot. With poetry I contemplate sounds and images, and riff and play with language. I have no set word count goals.

In fiction I like to generate quickly and immediately in a rush of accumulation at first writing a minimum word count number per day, then seeing what I have, where the energy is and when my attention should go next. I move quickly, allowing myself to write crap at first, so then at least I have something to work with AND after writing this way for several weeks or months and accumulating 50,000-100,000 words, it all feels like a lot (as messy and unformed as it might be) and something I couldn’t possibly abandon!  

How can you harness your inner creativity and inspiration when you’re tackling an aspect of writing that doesn’t strike you as especially creative? (i.e. synopses, query letters, revision, copy editing, etc)? 

There is a truth about writing that none of us want to really face and that’s the inherent drudgery, the hard grueling work, the gnarly mountain range of editing, the times when we’re stuck and tapped out. But the sooner we can acknowledge and accept, and then integrate these aspects (even make friends with them)—knowing that they are just as essential to the process as the fluid creative fun flowy parts are—then the sooner we can get on with the work of writing and get something completed. And when we get in to that frame of mind, the creativity tends to open up and become available for the revisions, queries, and copy editing. 

Make Time for Your Writing This Sunday

Mingle with writers, tackle your marketing and craft issues, and get set for your best writing this year with DeSilver’s keynote “Creative Awakening in the New Year.”

Meet Historical Fiction Writer Kay Tolman

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Our January Featured Member, Kay Tolman, Is a Lover of 19th-Century Literature

Kay TolmanAuthor, Kay Tolman is the pen name of Janice Kay Tolman. Since 2017, Kay has been working on the coming-of-age novel The Compromise. It’s historical fiction based on her maternal ancestors, who were mid-19th century pioneers. In her youth, she rode her horse across the undeveloped land on the outskirts of the Los Angeles suburbs.  In college, she focused on 19th-century literature. She also studied literacy theory, research in education, and discourse analysis at the graduate level.

For nearly 40 years, Kay taught English in high schools and community colleges. Running parallel to studies and teaching,  she practiced Zen in Korea, Japan, and the US.

She says, “I’m writing the novel I wanted to teach. New readers need a kind and welcoming prose style. Teachers need generous extensions to the core curriculum and applications to community life. I want my fiction to help a new generation come of age as citizens and think more critically and feel more deeply about our cultural and political roots.”

Check out her website at Compromise.blog. But now, three questions for Kay Tolman.

What’s the most important piece of writing advice that you could give to other writers?

The reader’s time with your text is precious, so make it count. Meaning happens in the reader, and that goes beyond what we can ever know. Be humble.

What one thing has helped promote your writing most?

Deciding on one thing to promote my writing is difficult because writing is a cascade. In the long-term, integrity between language and action, in other words, honesty, lets me trust my creativity. Reading and conversation engage my core emotions and big ideas. I always need more than I get. These days, fellow writers promote my writing when they trust my rhetorical purpose, respect my learning process, and also read critically. Then together we find those words and passages that hit or miss the mark. I am extremely grateful to my fellow writers, especially those at the Berkeley Writers Circle.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Easy. When I was a child I wanted to be a writer, so I guess I finally grew up. Teaching language and literature was a long, minimally sustaining, yet wonderful detour. Teaching involved a lot of storytelling. Working with tens of thousands of students, many of them new readers, was a reality check on what being a grown-up writer really means.

Get to Know Kay Tolman at our January 20th Meeting

Tolman is interested in exchanging guest posts with other writers. If you’re looking for someone to attend literary events, write-ins, or teaming up to send submissions, come out and get to know Kay.

Creative Awakening in the New Year, our Jan. 20th Meeting

Write Angles: January 2019

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Our newsletter is back on line! Click the link to read the first Write Angles of 2019.

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Note from the editor. There is a typo in every issue! This is there to remind writers to always get a proofreader. Can you spot it?

Half-Year Membership Special

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Join the club for half-price!

between January 1 and April 15

$22.50 + $20 enrollment fee = $42.50

We also need your Application!

Read more about membership benefits and details on the membership page.

Three ways to join:

  1. Fill out the online membership form and pay via Paypal (includes bank fee), or
  2. Download a paper membership form and mail in with a check (see bottom of membership page), or
  3. Come to a meeting and join on the spot!

With questions or special membership categories, send an email to members.cwc.berkeley@gmail.com.

SPEAKER: 1/20/19: “Creative Awakening in the New Year” with Albert Flynn DeSilver

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How do we take our writing to that next mysterious level? What are the steps we can take to stay focused, to stave off fear, doubt, and procrastination? What happens when life gets in the way? How does our writing practice open us up emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually? What about editing, completion, agents, and publication? These questions and more will be discussed open-heartedly and deeply with poet, memoirist, and novelist, Albert Flynn DeSilver.

Marin County’s first poet laureate and our featured guest January 20th, Albert Flynn DeSilver

Albert Flynn DeSilver is an American poet, memoirist, novelist, speaker, and workshop leader.  Albert served as Marin County California’s very first Poet Laureate from 2008-2010. He is the author of several books of poems including Letters to Early Street, and his work has appeared in more than 100 literary journals worldwide. Albert is also the author of the memoir Beamish Boy, which was named a “Best Book of 2012” by Kirkus Reviews. His recent nonfiction book, Writing as a Path to Awakening: A Year to Becoming an Excellent Writer and Living an Awakened Life—based on his popular writing workshops by the same name—was published by Sounds True in 2017. Albert is also a master mindfulness meditation teacher and speaker having shared the stage with U.S poet laureate Kay Ryan, bestselling authors’ Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Gilbert, Maxine Hong Kingston and many others. He teaches writing and mindfulness workshops at the 1440 Multiversity, The Omega Institute, The Esalen Institute, Spirit Rock Meditation Center and literary conferences nationally. He lives in Northern California.

Learn more about Albert Flynn DeSilver at his website AlbertFlynnDeSilver.com

But Wait, There’s More!

Get Marketing Support, Get Your Craft Questions Answered, and Network with Other Writers…

Preservation Park

Be sure to arrive early to participate in the Craft and Marketing support groups. These are interactive conversations where you can talk to other writers to resolve the issues in your writing and your writers career. Make the commitment to be join us every third Sunday; your writing career is important and you deserve this. Non-members and guests can audit any of our critique & support groups before joining. 

Enjoy the buzz of our networking time from 2-2:30 p.m. Have some coffee and make some great connections!

MEETING SCHEDULE

12:00–1:00 – Craft Support Group
1:00–2:00 – Marketing Success Group

2:00–2:30 – Writer Networking
2:30–3:00 – Welcome, Raffle & Club Announcements

3:00–3:15 – CWC Featured member TBA!
3:15–4:00 – Keynote Albert Flynn DeSilver

NEW: 4:15 – CWC Open Mic! Bring up to 5 minutes to read out.

Meetings are $5 for members, $10 for non-members*

  • Coffee is provided, bring cookies and treats to share!
  • Admission includes 1 free raffle ticket; additional tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5. Win a book written by our club authors!

*Empty pockets? Ask about our sponsored guest program at the door. We are committed to supporting writers.

1204 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, CA 94612

Our meetings are right off 980 in downtown Oakland, at beautiful Preservation Park. Just off 12th Street, naturally you can get there from the 12th St. BART station. Those with limited ability can use the parking lot off of MLK Way; otherwise there should be plenty of FREE parking within the park and on surrounding streets.

Say you’re coming on Facebook!

See You Tomorrow! Start the Year Right with a Marketing Plan.

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Is your writing poised for flight this year? There are still a few spots left in tomorrow’s Marketing Calendar workshop with Karma Bennett!

Create a Marketing Plan Workshop promo image

Hello Writers,

We’re gearing up to start a year of great support for writers! Don’t miss tomorrow’s planning workshop! 

A Workshop for Writers: Create a Marketing Plan with Karma Bennett

A few last minute details:

1) TIME CHANGE – the event will go from 11-2pm, not 3pm as stated in the flyer. This won’t affect the length of the presentation and workshop; it just means we’ll work through lunch rather than breaking for lunch. (Room will be closed at 2:30pm)

2) Come a little early to find street parking. If there are no spaces IN Preservation Park, you will find one on surrounding streets (MLK and 12th is the closest corner.) We are just 3 blocks from 12th Street Bart – a very nice walk.

3) There are still some spaces open if you would like to bring a friend! Who do you know that is working on getting their writing poised for flight this year? Tickets are $40 at the door/$20 for members. 

4) We are having our half-year Membership Special starting now! Only $42.50 and if you are not a member yet we can apply your ticket price appropriately at the door.

Ready to plan 2019? Let’s do this!

See you tomorrow!

Kristen Caven
www.kristencaven.com

President 2018-2019
berkeley.cwc@gmail.com

CWC-Berkeley.org

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