On Being a Working Writer: an Interview with Peggy Dougherty

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Peggy Dougherty

Peggy Dougherty, one of three panelists this Sunday speaking on THE WORKING WRITER

This Sunday, we’re hosting a panel on the working writer, to engage our members in conversation about finding balance and inspiration with our writing careers. In celebration of our final event in this year’s speaker series, we have asked some questions of panelist Peggy Dougherty.

Peggy is an award-winning playwright whose plays have had had thirty-eight productions. Her plays (all comedies) have been performed in New York City, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boca Raton, Houston, San Francisco, Great Britain, Toronto, and elsewhere. Peggy is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc., and The Drama Association of Rossmoor. She published her first novel, Age Matters, in 2018.

But she also had a day job for many years as a clinical psychologist In 2013 Peggy published a self-help book, The Ten Minute Cognitive Workout: Manage Your Mood and Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day (authored by Peggy Dougherty Snyder, Ph.D.). The book won the 2013 San Diego Book Award for Best Self-Help.

At our Sunday meeting, Peggy will share how she juggled her professional career as a clinical psychologist with her passion for writing. She will discuss how her profession informed her writing and how being self-employed helped her carve out a viable writing schedule. She’ll also share the boundaries she established between her psychology practice and her devotion to her writing passion.Age Matters book cover Peggy Dougherty

1. How do you balance the different ‘hats’ that you wear, as a writer, salesperson, employee, etc? What helps you to get back into the writing headspace after you’ve shifted out of it?

One way I balanced them when I was working is I used different surnames. Peggy Snyder is a psychologist. Peggy Dougherty is a playwright/author. My first play, From Bed to Worse, was a comedy about a psychologist. I didn’t want my clients to hear about the play and think I was poking fun at psychotherapy. (I was poking fun at the psychologist.) So I authored the play and all my subsequent fiction writing as Peggy Dougherty. I had writing days and psychology days (because I didn’t see clients every weekday.) On writing days I introduced myself as Peggy Dougherty. On workdays, I was Peggy Snyder.

Peggy Dougherty's nonfiction book

Peggy Dougherty’s nonfiction book

2. What avenues do you suggest for writers who need more income?

Free-lance writing and/or copywriting. I tried my hand at both with little success, but when I wasn’t working I wanted to work on my current playwriting project–which I started longer ago than I care to admit. Another idea is to get a gig writing a newslettter for an organization.

3. Do you personally prefer day-jobs that involve writing, or that let you do something completely different and take a break from writing?

I prefer a day job that does not involve writing. I have spoken with several writers whose jobs involved several hours each day on the computer. They all said it was difficult to sit down at the computer when they returned home in the evening.

4. What are some tips for time management that have worked for you?

Where do you sneak away downtime to write? I am pretty good about sticking to a writing schedule. At least I was before moving to Rossmoor in August of 2017. In Rossmoor there is a revolving calendar of interesting and exciting events all day/every day. It is like living on a cruise ship without the non-stop buffets or sea sickness. (I especially like my Zumba class, taught by a CWC author!) However, currently I try to devote the mid portion of my day from 11:00 to 5:00-6:00 to writing. This has been a difficult adjustment because I write best in the morning. On writing days in San Diego, where fitness classes started at 7:30 a.m., I was usually at my computer by 9:00- 9:30 and wrote until 5:00. Prior to retirement I seldom tried to write on a psychology day. It was too heart-rending. I really kept a strong boundary between work and writing.


Meet Peggy Dougherty and Discuss Matters Important to Working Writers THIS SUNDAY

Peggy will be joined by fellow professional writers “the Answer Man” Thaddeus Howze and Paul Corman-Roberts, co-founder of the Beast Crawl festival. Watch for an interview with our other two panelists, and plan to attend this exciting panel on May 19th. This will be the final installment in the 2018-2019 speaker program!

Working Writer Panel May 19th

 

 

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Write Angles: May 2019

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The Wind In Your Sails

Some words from your captain/president

In the big book of work-life balance, writing fits in both categories for most of us. In Chapter seven of my memoir, Perfectly Revolting: My Glamorous Cartooning Career, “Doodling for Dollars,” I write: 

There are five or six ways to have art in your life when you’re living in the real world.

1) drawing for free
2) drawing on the job
3) drawing as a job
4) drawing off the clock
5) getting successfully published
6) becoming independently wealthy.

Insert “writing” for “drawing” and you’ve got the setup for our May panel, The Working Writer. Come meet our interesting panelists on May 19th, and share your p.o.v..  Sheryl Bize-Boutte is the first to chime in… check out her piece in “The Writing Life,” in the newsletter.

Now, volunteering for the CWC is both work-related for those of us working writers, and life-related for those of us who find any sort of happiness in helping and working with others. 

posing with the Jack London Award & CWC sealEvery other year, the CWC gives out an award to one volunteer in each of its branches who has gone “above and beyond” in supporting the club. When I received the 2017 Jack London Award, it felt SO good to be recognized for my efforts that I volunteered even more! 

> With uber-volunteers JoAnn Ainsworth and Kymberlie Ingalls, plus fellow Jack London Award Winner Linda Brown, I pose with the 1913 woodcut that became our club seal. Other Jack London Award Winners from this branch include David Baker, Anne Fox, and Lucille Bellucci.


And at a board meeting earlier this spring, it was such a pleasure to ask Karma Bennett to leave the room for a second so I could nominate her for this year’s award. The consent was unanimous and uproarious!

Karma has been your web mistress, your workshop host, and even your president! She sets up our meetings, month after month! Karma is the first and last person to hold up her hand when volunteers are requested, whether or not she’s got the time. She’s always eager to explain something or juggle something or hold the door. Karma has been a force of playfulness and possibility in this club since the day she arrived, and is always willing to offer her advice and support. Karma will be honored by the Central Board at a luncheon here in Oakland on July 21st.

More calendar notes: May 19th is our last meeting at Preservation Park this year. (It’s also our election! Come cast your vote!) Reserve NOW for our June 5th workshop on setting and plan to attend our club party and book launch at the Octopus on June 15th before we break for summer. We might be looking for a new home come September…. Then it’s California Writers Week in October and Litquake and then who wants to run away to the islands with me in November? The Kauai Writers Conference has offered our club members a 20% discount off attendance fees. Let me know if you’re interested.



                                           Sail On,

 —Kristen Caven
 Berkeley Branch Captain a.k.a. President, 2017-2019

 Author, The Souls of Her Feet
 Co-author, The Bullying Anditote
                        

June 5th WORKSHOP: “Setting that Works” with John Byrne Barry

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The best setting is more than a pretty, or gritty description. It’s lean and strong, because it’s working two or more jobs—pushing your story along, helping us get to know your protagonist better. Join us for Setting That Works on June 5th at WeWork (1111 Broadway in Oakland).

In this hands-on workshop, John Byrne Barry, author of Wasted: Murder in the Recycle Berkeley Yard, and Bones in the Wash: Politics is Tough. Family is Tougher, will review the different ways setting can strengthen your story, and lead a writing exercise putting what we learn into action.

Topics Covered at June 5th Workshop

  • Studying the different ways setting can strengthen your story.
  • Do writing exercises putting what we learned into action.
  • Capturing the essence of a place in a few short sentences—a strategic snapshot, not a wikipedia entry.
  • Drip-feeding description into your story so it doesn’t slow the momentum.

Get Your Tickets Now

Workshop Led by John Byrne Barry

John Byrne Barry
John Byrne Barry

John Byrne Barry writes novels, designs websites and book covers, and leads bicycle tours in San Francisco. He is author of two “page-turners with a conscience”—Wasted: Murder in the Recycle Berkeley Yard, and Bones in the Wash: Politics is Tough. Family is Tougher, which won the 2015 Best Book award from the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA). His third novel, coming in 2019, is an assisted-suicide family thriller, tentatively titled Why I Killed My Father. Learn more at johnbyrnebarry.com.

Ticket Info for this Workshop

Advance tickets $30; $40 at door.

CWC Members (50% discount): Advance tickets $15; $20 at door

There will be a member list at the door. Information about membership benefits and costs can be found at cwc-berkeley.org/about/join-us. 

Reservations are required!

GET TICKETS NOW

Welcome to The Club!

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CWCLogowithR

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

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 on Sunday, May 19th:

The Working Writer

A panel exploring the writer’s relationship to work, featuring Peggy Dougherty, Thaddeus Howze & Paul Corman Roberts

Then join us for a workshop onn Wednesday, June 5th:

Setting that Works

with John Byrne Barry

Click here to commit to your writing career.

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See You Sunday + Monday is EarthDay

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SUNDAY! Bring a notebook or laptop and get clear on your next novel!

MONDAY! IT’S TIME. Post your climate commitment statements online, add #wolfpackwriters. Get and give inspiration.

SUNDAY:

Members craft & marketing groups start at 12pm;
networking from 2-2:30.
Our speakers begin at 3 and …
we wrap things up at 4.

Catch our speaker, the amazing Beth Barany, online! Dial in after the meeting right here!.

MONDAY:

Members of the Wolf Pack Writers Action Group will be releasing their climate commitment statements on social media. Please join us! Here’s all you have to do:

  • In one paragraph, include your reasons for joining the pack, your intentions as a writer, and a call to action or encouragement for other writers to raise our voices about changing the course of our climate catastrophe.
  • Record yourself reading your climate commitment statement, with or without video, and post it on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Soundcloud, anywhere… on, before, or after Earth Day on Monday, April 22. (Declare every day as Earth Day!) Use the tag #wolfpackwriters and feel free to share links to other actions.
  • We also invite you to join the Wolf Pack WAG FB Group and share your statement, plus resources for other writers. Memes, links, ideas, movements…start howling!

Write Angles: April 2019

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The Wind In Your Sails

Some words from your captain/president

It’s spring and today for some reason I am thinking about eggs. Eggs! There are good ones and bad ones; they come before and after chickens; they are delicate and ubiquitous, beautiful in form, mysterious in their inscrutability, and downright miraculous in their function. Eggs are potent symbols in literature, and inspiring poetry prompts! They are both delicious and nutritious. (Also, have you ever given your dog an egg to play with? They get all wolfy. Hilarious.)

I once even had a mystical egg experience! On New Years Day, 2016. I split open a dozen boiled eggs to bring to a party, only to find they were already “bedeviled” —eight of them had double yolks! What an omen that was for the astonishing and divisive year that followed! (And yet, I must add, they were quite delicious.)

For some reason I was thinking about eggs while reading Chapter Four of Gary Durbin’s sci-fi novel, Nano-Uncertainty, which features intelligent little orbs but really has nothing to do with any of the above. However, in a way, cracking the cover of a book is like cracking an egg. You get to all this good stuff inside, for it to take life in your own mind. And cracking open a book is like cracking open a writer. In our club we all know each other as people but until we crack open each other’s books, each other’s writings, we cannot really begin to fully understand each other. We find out how truly diverse and interesting each one of us is, behind our smooth (or brightly colored) exterior.

Meanwhile, the Catholic church always seems to schedule Easter in direct conflict with our monthly 3rd-Sunday meeting, no matter how many letters I write asking them to change it! This year, though, we’re outsmarting the system with technology! For years, people have been asking if we could put our speakers and meetings online, and we’ve finally “cracked the code” thanks to the up-and-running business of another incredibly capable writer and teacher who is also now a club member. So if you need to spend Sunday, April 21 doing egg-related activities, no worries! Thanks to Beth Baranyyou can see the lecture online, at your convenience! Scroll down for details, or just register NOW at this link.

April, what else? Showers! Flowers! Taxes! Endless reasons to write. If you write NOTHING ELSE this month, write a note to the nomination committee (below, in yellow), with the name of that person whose book you read (or want to read) who you think is smart and could really help this club sail smoothly. Even if it’s YOU. And if you get a phone call that YOU’ve been nominated, think seriously about it. If you have to say ‘no’ to the position, please consider what else you could contribute. 

Ask not what your club can do for you, ask what you can do for your club.

I am about to complete my second year as your captain president. There are some who are egging me on to continue. I would be honored to serve another year so that I can continue to shape and strengthen the club (we want to expand our membership, create more connection and community)—BUT life is hinting that it might soon pile more surprises on my plate. I don’t want to end up with egg on my face, so I’d love to find a successor to groom into taking a turn at the helm. Do you see yourself stepping into my shoes? (They’re pretty fabulous…) Call me if you have any questions. 

                                           Sail On,

 —Kristen Caven
 Berkeley Branch Captain a.k.a. President, 2017-2019

 Author, The Souls of Her Feet
 Co-author, The Bullying Anditote
                        

Write Angles: March 2019

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The Wind in Your Sails

I woke up one morning and thought: What if I woke up one morning knowing we only had twelve years to save the planet? What else could I do that I’m not doing now?

At the CWC Berkeley board meeting this month, there were five talented writers sitting around the table going through the painstaking business of keeping this club going. As I struggled to get to the end of the agenda before we all had to rush off, this agitated inner voice yelled, “If we only have twelve years to keep global warming below 1.5°c, why am I bothering with this? Is this the best use of my time and energy?” Everyone stared at me. I guess I had kind of said it out loud?

Then someone else said, “I was just thinking the same thing.”

There was a rush of emotion in the room, and for a minute we all considered putting a “closed until the world is saved” sign on the CWC website, so we could turn our full attention to climate activism. But then someone mentioned Thomas Paine, and someone else mentioned the Prague Uprising, and before we knew it we were having another meeting to discuss the role our local and statewide club might play in changing this dangerous course of history. 

Jack London’s a libris

Sometimes as writers we do our best work with a deadline. Let’s work under pressure, together. Someone suggested the name “Wolf Pack Writers” for our club’s new writers action group, inspired by Jack London’s love of nature and activist writings. How can we encourage our members to work individually and together on creating understanding and action around this unfolding climate catastrophe? Billions of past decisions created this crisis. What if the writers in our club could help all of our our readers and leaders through the billions of decisions we must make now? 

Here come the lyrics. I wrote, once, about the “Seven C’s of the CWC” and here are seven more for humanity: through conservation, connection, and community, we can fight problems created by consumption, convenience, consumerism, and conveyance. In the next twelve years, every planetary traveler will need the encouragement of our motto, “Sail On,” in some form or another, to persevere through desperate times and keep focused on the human strengths that can transform society and stabilize our home planet.

Kristen Caven is author of The Souls of Her Feet 

Watch for announcements on how to get involved. In the meantime, please leave a comment about the writing YOU are doing to help calm the climate.

We’ll see you at this month’s events!

                                           Sail On,
Kristen Caven
Berkeley Branch Captain a.k.a. President

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