Retreats in California
Laguna Writers offers two different kinds of day-long retreats: San Francisco retreats and Ocean View retreats. The San Francisco retreats are held in Twin Peaks, and the Ocean View retreats are held in various locations along the Pacific Coast. This year's first retreat—on March 24th—will be held in Stinson Beach. The photos here are of the house at Stinson Beach.
The day-long retreats are held three times a year, in Spring, Summer and Fall, and they each have their own craft focus, such as writing from the senses, character development, and revision techniques.
Participants always say that a day spent writing with others feels like a retreat from their day to day lives. All you have to do is show up, have something to eat, and get busy writing and relaxing in a quiet, safe environment.
The San Francisco and Ocean View Retreats share the same schedule. Please find a general description of the retreats below.
If you want to jump-start your writing again, or make time for a project you have been wanting to work on for a while, sign up for a day-long retreat. We'd love to have you here.
Retreats in California run from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. We provide bagels and coffee in the morning, as well as lunch with vegetarian options. These day-long retreats are a wonderful opportunity to check out the feel of Laguna Writers. A Saturday meeting offers a chance to do this without the commitment that the weekly workshops require; they also cost considerably less.
The cost for a Saturday retreat is $200.00, and requires a $100.00 non-refundable deposit to hold your place.
Since we're done at 5:30 p.m., there's still time to get home and get ready for any plans you may have for that evening. And you'll leave feeling inspired to write again.
Typical schedule for a Saturday retreat:
10:30-11:00: Bagels, coffee and tea, snacks: "chat and chew"
11:00-11:40: Introductions and a warm-up exercise
11:40-11:50: A short break
11:50-12:40: Our first writing exercise and a chance for people to read aloud (if they choose)
1:25-2:50: Our second exercise, which may include a short walk, weather permitting.
2:50-3:00: A short break
3:00-4:00: Our third writing exercise
4:00-4:15: A short break
4:15-5:30: Our final exercise, closing statements, comments, discussion.
Please contact Chris if you're interested in signing up for the next Saturday mini-retreat, or you have any questions.
Retreats Outside California
Since 2009, Laguna Writers has hosted writing retreats in France, Italy, Mexico and Hawaii.
The next Hawaiian retreat is May 22-28, 2018.
Retreats outside of California run for six days and six nights and include all meals, as well as a three hour writing workshop every morning from 10 am – 1 pm. Participants are invited to have lunch and dinner together every day, and there are six hours of free time between lunch and dinner.
The retreat fees range from $2300-$2900 (USD), depending on the type of room you reserve. Single and shared rooms are available.
A non-refundable $600 deposit is necessary to hold your place, and a phone call with Chris is required before you make a deposit. After that, you may make a deposit or pay your balance anytime using the sign-up link, or by sending a check.
Writing for Grief and Healing
Writing Our Way Through Loss: A Grief and Healing Retreat
Saturday, October 20, 2018 (Co-Facilitated with Kaye Cleave)
Have you experienced a meaningful loss in your life? Are you searching for a way to find words to express your grief and also to navigate the healing process? Then please join workshop co-facilitators Kaye Cleave and Christopher P. DeLorenzo for a day-long writing retreat.
The writing sessions will be facilitated in the Amherst Writers and Artists method (AWA), which focuses on spontaneous writing prompts, voluntary reading, and positive feedback only. This isn't a therapy group, rather, it utilizes the AWA method as a healing art, a way of shaping meaning around our grief. Everyone is free to share his or her writing, or decline to read. We're also free to write about other subjects, but the writing prompts and handouts will each address grief and healing in some way.
During the retreat, we'll explore our ideas, thoughts, and stories generated by loss and surviving those we have loved. We'll also address the various ways we can approach the healing process and acknowledge the spectrum of experiences that represent grief and healing.
This retreat will have the same format as our Saturday Retreats: we'll write in the morning, take several short breaks, and one longer break at lunchtime. After lunch, we’ll write again in the afternoon, and enjoy a homemade DeLorenzo dessert.
If you are interested, please make a non-refundable deposit to hold your place. You may do this by clicking on the sign up link above.
To contact Chris, click on the contact link above, or call Laguna Writers at 415-206-9771.
About Kaye Cleave:
Kaye began her career as a teacher, first in Australia, and then in England. She earned an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco (2002), and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Adelaide, Australia (2006). From 2008–2010, she was a research scholar with the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley. Her thesis involved interviewing bereaved mothers to determine if meditation helped them to grieve. She is very interested in the subject, being a mother who lost her only child.
She has travelled extensively and worked in various countries as a waitress, a taxi–driver, a professional public speaker, a counsellor, a grape-picker on a kibbutz, a sales-woman in Germany, and croupier in London. Kaye is now a life coach and an AWA writing workshop facilitator in the Bay Area; she completed the AWA Training Program in 2009. Her first book, Once More with Feeling (How to Manage your Emotions in the Workplace) was published in 1996. She is currently at work on a memoir.
To see Kaye's short film, "A Tribute to Catherine," click here.
To contact Kaye:
Gay Men's Writing Brunch
Happening Spring and Fall 2018: February 25th and September 9th
Day-long workshops are a wonderful way to sink into the writing process for several hours, and a nice alternative for those who can't commit to a weekly meeting right now. They offer the opportunity to begin a project, explore an idea, and even leave with a developed piece. For all of these reasons, the day-long workshops are unique.
The gay men's all day workshop offers something else: a chance to explore ideas or topics that you may not feel as comfortable addressing in a mixed group. The actual experience of writing with a group of gay men is unique, because we're able to write freely, and to connect as a community outside of the usual (often alienating) environments, like bars and clubs.
Chris' very first workshops began with a group of five gay men (in 1992), and the experience was as profound for him then as it is now. Chris is continually amazed by the brave, funny, beautiful, sexy writing produced at these workshops, and for the way these fellow writers treat one another with such respect. Chris considers it an honor to witness a group of men listening to one another this way, and to have so many wonderful writers in his living room.
The workshop is offered twice a year, and includes a light brunch menu (with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options), dessert, coffee and tea, and five and a half hours of writing time, all for the reasonable fee of $100.
Laguna Writers Brownies and Other Recipes
Christopher says, "Some of my returning participants joke that they come for the brownies, but they stay for the writing exercises." He makes a fresh batch of brownies and other desserts for every workshop.
Find his brownie recipe below, and scroll down to find his blondies recipe too. For even more recipes, check out Christopher's cookbook, Kitchen Inheritance: Memories and Recipes from my Family of Cooks.
Laguna Writers Brownies
4 ounces Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted until soft
(2 minutes in the microwave, or on medium high heat in a double-boiler)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup),
melted until soft
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix melted chocolate and butter until smooth, then add sugar until it is mixed in thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients, except flour, which should be mixed in separately and last. Stir together until smooth, and pour into a greased (buttered) eight inch, square baking pan.
3. To make the brownies extra fudge-like, melt an additional ounce of Baker's chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl with three tablespoons of water (one minute on high). Mix water and melted chocolate together until the mixture is thick, but pourable, like gravy.
4. Spoon the melted chocolate over the top of the brownie mixture in the pan in thin strips, from top to bottom, and also from side to side (making a criss-cross pattern on the top of the mixture). Run a butter knife through this pattern to form a ragged "fleurs-de-lis" pattern that will melt into the top and take the brownies to a whole new level. (A special thanks to AWA Affiliate Joan-Marie Wood, who taught me this).
5. Place rack in the upper third of oven, and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Cut into small squares.
Eat, write and enjoy!
Blondies traditionally are brownie substitutes (as if there could be such a thing). Most recipes call for half white sugar and half brown, and white chocolate chips only (hence the blonde in blondie). I insist on adding dark chocolate chips, and also find that using all brown sugar really gives them a rich, butterscotch flavor.
The blondies used to only show up for special events: the Lake reading, for example, or the end-of-workshop potlucks to celebrate the end of nine-week session. But then Chris started making them whenever he got bored of the brownies, and they really caught on. Chris gets requests for them now, and he gladly obliges.
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate and peanut butter chips (1+1)
You can also substitute or add white chocolate chips, but the peanut butter chips make this recipe special, so leave those in!
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 Pyrex (glass) baking dish (metal pans won't work as well)
3. Firmly pack the sugar and place in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small skillet or in the microwave in a glass measuring cup. Stir the butter into the sugar until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
4. Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
5. Beat the eggs lightly, then add with vanilla into the sugar mixture. Add the flour mixture a bit at a time and mix until a smooth, thick batter forms. Stir in the chips.
6. Spoon the batter to the prepared dish and spread to evenly fill the dish. (note: it will be sticky, so work that spatula!)
7. Bake until the blondies are light brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean: 20 minutes is just perfect.
8. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut into squares and serve.
Thinking of submitting your own work, or seeking a community of writers in the Bay Area and beyond? Check out our list of resources below, and let us know if you have an idea for an additional link.
This online journal celebrates the diverse voices in the Laguna Writers community, and in other local writing communities. Many of the earlier pieces on this site originated in weekly workshops in San Francisco and Saturday retreats at Birdland in West Sonoma.
Submit your social commentary for all Bay Area public radio listeners to hear. Several Laguna Writers have had their voices on Perspectives. Click on the "Submission Guidelines" link to find out more.
This American Life focuses on narratives: "accounts of people who had some experience that changed them." Click on the "submit" link at the bottom of the page.
A great resources for writers; the most comprehensive publication to date.
The classifieds represent a great spectrum of literary magazines as well as calls for Anthology submissions, on-line publication, contests, even writing retreats.
A great resource for publication information and writing news.
Actors read classic and new short fiction recorded live and broadcast on PRI.
This is a great resource for poetry readings, current publication reviews, workshops and upcoming events, as well as a place to read new fiction and poetry. Poetry Flash lists information about events and workshops in all of California, but focuses mainly on the San Francisco Bay Area.
Most of the photographs on my web site were taken by Albert Chau, and Chris recommends him for his professionalism and talent. The link in the title above will take you to his home page.
David is a talented architectural photographer, and is widely published. His professionalism is unparalleled, and he has been pivotal in helping Chris to promote his retreats with his beautiful photographs. Take a look.
A beautiful getaway in Point Reyes, right on Tomales Bay. Perfect for a solo writing retreat.
Pat is the creator of the method Chris uses, and this is her official web site.
Started in 1999, this school offers classes in every genre: everything from children's literature to how to break into travel writing.
Chris often meets his writing clients at a local cafe in Noe Valley (on 24th Street). Check out their site for directions.
Some of the writers who have attended Laguna Writers have posted their comments below. If you have further questions, please contact Chris.
"It’s so amazing to me to discover my love of words all over again, as if for the first time --and to know that other people who love words and toss them around with such precision and beauty and triumph can actually lighten and delight my hardened heart."
"You are so genuine and warm and caring and your beauty emanates from you. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to write with you."
"I was finding the whole process of writing individually with no feedback lonely and uninspiring. Taking a workshop forced me to write every week in a supportive environment where I could have fun with the creative process. This method really works -- at long last I have work ready to be submitted, and most importantly, I now realize that writing doesn't have to be drudgery, it can be fun!"
"I can't thank you enough for your fabulous writing workshop, gentle encouragement, warm hospitality, and of course, your BROWNIES! Writing with you has changed everything for me--thank you for providing an amazing environment and a catalyst for making me a writer again."
"It was really life-changing for me. . .The workshop seemed to unscrew the lid off whatever has been stymieing me and I really want to write more. Somehow I feel like I found my voice this weekend."
"I've taken many writing classes and workshops. Chris' workshop is the most supportive and enjoyable, as well as being informative and productive. A thoroughly enjoyable experience and highly recommended."
"Thank you so very much, Chris, for your ability to draw people out, to make them feel safe and sure. With your prompting and coaxing, you drew out some amazing writing as well as lovely, insightful comments. "
"A male midwife named Chris helped us birth our feelings to the page."
"I really love what is happening with my writing through these workshops... little by little I am emerging from the confines of my old stories."
"The inspiration and encouragement I get from writing with others propels me to write more when I am alone."
"The sustenance of snacks and coffee and light and safety; the serious, playful invitation to enter our own great realms of story and explore the internal forces."
"You are a slyly gifted teacher and I am so glad to have come into your sphere."
"Where to begin? The solicitous hosts? The wonderful writers? You decide. Thank you Chris for a sensitively facilitated writing workshop. Thank you everyone for trusting me with your words. Your trust is well placed."
"I looked around the group and saw individuals sharing the story without judgment. Kind of a miracle, really."