Are You A Wannabe Writer?

Annual workshop could help you get to the next level
BY: SAMUEL CLEMENS

Do you want to be a writer? Maybe you have a brilliant idea for the next “great American novel” that you just need to get down on paper, or you’re stuck on the manuscript you’ve been slaving away on for years. Whether it’s guidance, inspiration or some constructive criticism you need, the 2018 Todos Santos Writers Workshop can provide it.

And no, you don’t have to be an esteemed, published writer to attend. The workshop is open to everyone.

“What we say is, we are looking for writers at all levels,” says Rex Weiner, one of the workshop’s founders and faculty members. “Many writers come to us with works in progress or something that they want to begin writing.” You can also bring a piece that you’ve already finished.

“Our workshop is perfect for people who have been thinking for some time of actually writing something and want to know how to begin,” Rex says. “It’s also good for people who have started a project and have maybe lost their way or need to check and see if they are on the right track.”

While you don’t have to be published to be accepted into the workshop, you do need to be committed to your writing. Rex makes it clear that this is not a workshop for light-hearted hobbyists. It is an intensive week, with three hours of workshops every morning. And although writers have their afternoons free, everyone usually spends the time working on their respective pieces.

Jenny Armit, owner of the Hotelito in Todos Santos, attended the first Todos Santos Writers Workshop as a complete novice. “I’d never really written about anything other than in a professional setting. And I hadn’t written in a long time,” she says.

She learned so much from the first workshop that she attended again the next year (Rex says about half the participants each year are return participants). It was during that second workshop that she was encouraged to go for her master’s degree in fine arts, which she did.

“Now I write all the time,” she says. “I love it. It’s almost a daily ritual for me.”

Going into the writers workshop as a writing newbie was terrifying, Jenny says, but the faculty members were so supportive that she quickly felt comfortable sharing her work for critique.

“They push you, but they’re really encouraging. They see what’s good there and they help you bring it out,” she says.

Jenny plans to attend the writers workshop again this year. She says the faculty, the sense of community among the writers and the amount of knowledge and inspiration you get from the workshop are what makes it so valuable to writers.

“If you ever had a dream that you have a voice and you want to write about something, this is the best environment to find out,” she says. “For me, stuff came out of me that amazed me.”

Now in its fifth year, a few changes have been made to this year’s writers workshop. They’ve expanded the faculty and the number of workshops. They’ve also gone from a five-day session to a full seven days, running from Sunday, January 27 to Monday, February 3 of next year.

Also new this year is the addition of a poetry workshop, which will be lead by Christopher Merrill. He’s the director of the University of Iowa international writing program, an award-winning poet and author of six collections of poetry and five nonfiction books.

The writers workshop will also have two fiction workshops, a memoir workshop and a nonfiction workshop.

If you aren’t able to attend the full week, there are a couple of workshop events that are open to the public. This first is a faculty reading, where members of the workshop’s faculty read selections of their work. It will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 29.

The second event is a writers round table, featuring Christopher Merrill and Ellen Waterston, a poet and nature writer who has operated her own writing workshop (The Writing Ranch) in Todos Santos for 10 years.

“With these two talking about the craft and their own approaches to nature writing, we believe we’ll have a very, very lively session,” Rex says. Moderating will be Jeanne McCulloch, one of the founders of the writers workshop.

The title of the roundtable is “Inner and Outer Landscapes: Writing Personally about Nature.” The round table will be at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 1. Both events will take place in the courtyard of Casa Dracula, and the cost is a donation to the Palapa Society of Todos Santos.

To learn more about the Todos Santos Writers Workshop, visit www.todossantoswritersworkshop.com. The workshop is limited to 20 to 25 writers, and there are just a few spots left, so shake a leg. The cost is $1,200 USD, and advance registration requires a 50% payment no later than November 30. ,