Rosa leads the Peer Writers' Group at the San Lorenzo Public Library. Check the calendar for meeting dates and times. All creative writers are welcome, whether you write poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenplays or blog entries. Below, you'll find workshop guidelines and goals. Read these guidelines before coming to your first meeting.
Rosa also hosts the annual Library Lit reading at the San Lorenzo Public Library each March. Submissions are typically due each January 1st.
PEER WRITERS’ GROUP BASIC GUIDELINES
The Peer Writers’ Group provides an opportunity for local writers to share original work and receive feedback from other writers. Come with ten hard copies of what you would like workshopped. Keep in mind your workshop time will likely be about 10 minutes total, including the time it takes you to read your work aloud. (Workshop time is based on the number of members sharing work that day.) Discussion is limited to pieces being workshopped and exercises prepared by the facilitator.
As a facilitator, I aim to provide all participants an opportunity to share their original writing. If you would like to share work, arrive on time. Workshop order is determined by a sign-in sheet passed around at the start of each meeting. Those who arrive late are not guaranteed the opportunity to share, although I will make an effort to incorporate latecomers if possible.
The group aims to create an environment where everyone feels safe and welcomed. To that end, please use your best judgement when sharing your work. Writing with gratuitous sexual situations is not allowed. No profane or hateful language against any race/ethnicity/gender/sexual preference will be tolerated. Members with disruptive work or behavior will be asked to leave.
The purpose of a workshop, whether you’re in an MFA program or an independent writers group, is to help the writer with his/her work and development of craft. Keeping some basic goals in mind can help everyone get the most from the experience.
GOALS FOR READERS/COMMENTERS:
1. Separate the work in front of you from the person in front of you. Analyze the work on its own terms.
a. Avoid going into hypotheticals.
b. Focus on the work before you right now rather than what may come before or after.
c. Avoid delving into the writer's psychology or personal life, as well as assuming the author is writing from experience, (excluding non-fiction of course.) If it helps, refer to “the narrator” instead of using the writer’s name.
2. Engage in constructive criticism.
a. Offer evaluations rather than judgements. Go beyond “I liked it.” Think about the techniques the writer is employing and the effect of the techniques on you, the reader.
b. Be comfortable with silence. Processing something that was just read out loud is not easy. It’s okay to give yourself a moment to collect your thoughts or finish writing in the margins. Dig deep for valuable feedback.
c. Don’t ask the writer direct questions, even if you are confused. Instead, simply explain how and why you are confused. That’s important feedback!
d. Follow discussion. Sometimes simply explaining why you agree or disagree with a comment is very valuable to the writer.
GOALS FOR BEING WORKSHOPPED:
1. Embrace receiving feedback. In the vast majority of professional workshops, the writer is not allowed to speak. It’s understood that the writer can focus on feedback the most when he or she is silently soaking it in, taking notes.
a. Avoid defending the writing, clarifying certain points, or chit-chatting about process. Save those conversations for after workshop.
b. Feedback isn’t intended to be taken personally, but it’s hard to separate yourself from something so personal. Just remember that you are not being workshopped. Only the writing in its current state is being workshopped.
c. Sometimes the best criticism is the hardest to hear. But you also have to know when to disregard comments that you don’t feel are right for you and your work. Filter feedback by analyzing and ranking comments before revising.
d. Be comfortable with silence. Sparse discussion can be nerve-racking, but some pieces simply spark more discussion than others for various reasons including form, length and topic.