Dispatches From Squaw’s Annual High-Altititude Literary Gathering

Almost a decade ago, I joined the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley for an intensive, week-long non-fiction workshop. It was a summer camp-like experience in the high Sierras. Each morning, about a dozen of us in the non-fiction workshop gathered around a table to critique each other’s manuscripts — usually discussing two submissions each morning. In the afternoons, we’d either stay for the craft talks or hike through the mountains. After dinner, we’d stay up late, swapping stories with fiction and non-fiction writers alike.

So you want to start a writing group…

A hand popped up in the back of the room. “So where did you get your name?” asked a man last Sunday afternoon. Seated before him were four members of North 24th Writers, who’d gathered at Book Passage for a panel discussion on writing groups.

The occasion was the monthly meeting of the Marin branch of the California Writers Club, a group incorporated in 1913 that had Jack London as one of its first members. About forty people had decided to spend a few hours during a beautiful fall afternoon inside (shortly before the Giants won the World Series) to hear a discussion about writing groups, including how to form them, and the challenges and surprising side-benefits of creating your own work group.