Writers Workshops in Todos Santos

BY: FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

Across the United States, writers workshops that begin in January continue during the winter and through spring in places like the city of San Francisco, CA and Fort Lyons, Colorado out west, and Cincinnati, Ohio, along with Summit, New Jersey back east. 

Down Mexico way, the "Writing Down The Baja" creative writing workshop in Todos Santos, celebrates its 10-year anniversary with its annual event being held from January 26 to February 2.

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This week-long writer's retreat has been held on the panoramic breathtaking grounds of Serendipity, a beachfront Hacienda-style boutique hotel in the pueblo magico of Todos Santos. 

Established and emerging writers are both eagerly welcome to the 10th annual event led by Writing Ranch founder and award-winning writer and poet, Ellen Waterston. 

The week's list of activities includes daily writing workshops, genres to be explored include memoir, short fiction, lyric essay, and poetry, an optional Manuscript Lab, commemorative anthology of writing by 2020 participants, nightly turtle hatchling release and enjoying gourmet Mexican cuisine during the January 26 - February 2 timeline. 

An outstanding lineup of 2020 guest presenters including Bruce Berger, James Anderson, Terry Gloeckler, Bill Marlett and Mary Anker, along with a special fiction-writing intensive by James Anderson. A Saturday night finale fiesta including participant readings, and a mariachi band celebrating 10 years of “Writing Down the Baja!” is also part of the writing festivities. 

The "Writing Down The Baja'' morning sessions are for emerging writers and writers returning to their practice of writing. 

With prompts designed to improve each writer's craft, be it poetry or prose, and to enrich each participants’ Baja writing workshop experience. 

Afternoon Manuscript Lab sessions are for writers with a prose or poetry manuscript that needs a jump-start or fine-tuning. Morning and afternoon sessions limited to 15 participants each. 

The cost of this year's 2020 "Writing Down The Baja" creative writing workshop is priced at $1,975 USD, which includes lodging and meals at Serendipity, ground transportation from and to San Jose del Cabo airport, daily workshops, guest author presentations, and a published anthology of the group’s work. 

To register, the payment of $1,975 USD was due by December 30, 2019. Payments were made online at writingranch.com or via snail "cheques in the mail" sent to Writing Ranch, P.O. Box 640, Bend, OR 97709. A student rate of $600 USD includes seven days of workshops, anthology, supplemental readings and materials, and guest author presentations.

The Writing Ranch organizers recognize the importance of taking time away from daily demands to focus on writing and writing goals, and The Writing Ranch is dedicated to supporting the craft and careers of writers through workshops, retreats, and one-on-one tutorials.

"I was moved beyond words by the incisiveness and clarity of her thoughts. Waterston is a genius-level instructor, able to uncover the latent talents of any group through a series of seemingly simple exercises in composition," noted Peter Springberg, of Fort Collins, Colorado. 

Judith Miller of Bend, Oregon, added, "I am still Baja California Dreaming. It was a spectacular week, and I so enjoyed the company of each and everyone," after her 2018 experience at this decade-long writers workshop retreat. 

Creator and founder, Ellen Waterston's most recent title, her fourth volume of poetry, "Hotel Domilocos: Poems," is available now from Moonglade Press and on Amazon.

In 2015, the poet, author and literary arts advocate, converted her verse novel, "Vía Láctea: A Woman of a Certain Age Walks the Camino," into a libretto, sung to a musical score by composer Rebecca Oswald. The verse novel, based on walking the Camino de Santiago in 2012, was premiered as an opera in Bend, Oregon's Tower Theatre, June 2016. 

Her poetry awards include the WILLA for two previous collections and the Obsidian Prize for Poetry. Prose titles include her 2013, "Where the Crooked River Rises," a collection of Waterston's award-winning essays and a memoir. Her memoir, "Then There Was No Mountain," published in 2005, was recognized by the Oregonian as one of the top 10books of the year; earning her an appearance on Good Morning America.  

“I had a life-transforming experience at your retreat. Ellen is a fabulous teacher and a wonderful soul. She made us all feel special, and listened and critiqued with kindness and love in her heart. Serendipity was magical," commented Robin Winter of Todos Santos. "Her ability to connect with each person in the class was inspiring. This is certainly a gift she possesses. Her encouragement and suggestions have motivated me to become a more complete and accomplished writer," added Michael Reeves of Christmas Valley, Oregon.

"Ellie’s writing workshop was a really wonderful experience for me, especially given that I’m not a writer and I was more than a little intimidated about it before I got there. Now I'm so glad my friend asked me to go with her," noted Ginger Hackett, another Todos Santos resident.