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Come find your voice …

Posted: May 27th, 2016 | Columns, Featured, Profiles in Advocacy | No Comments

By Ian Morton | Profiles in Advocacy

I love to write and I’d like to think I have a talent for the craft, but I recently completed a written composition course that challenged me to push my writing style up to the level of my substance.

In my conversations with the teacher of said course, Professor Karen Malfara, she advised me of a nonprofit organization for writers: San Diego Writers, Ink (SDWI). Also, to my great joy, I learned they are a mere building away from my own offices at San Diego Human Dignity Foundation at Liberty Station!

Founded by San Diegan Judy Reeves, author of “Wild Women, Wild Voices: Writing From Your Authentic Wildness,” SDWI provides space and support for the burgeoning and seasoned writer alike.

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SD Writer’s Ink members with their novel writing certificates from Tammy Greenway’s class

Originally a more nomadic “The Writing Center,” SDWI became a nonprofit about 10 years ago, but the core purpose always remained: to be the writing hub of San Diego, where people interested in writing can pen their work, participate in a class, experience a reading and connect with others.

Just a glance at the SDWI calendar reveals a plethora of options to engage in reading and writing every day of the month. Whether developing your book’s characters in the Novel III workshop, exploring screenwriting on Thursday nights, or packing a lunch and a pen for the noon Brown Bag gatherings, there is no shortage of opportunities for nearly every writing genre. While many of the workshops take place in Liberty Station, you can also find SDWI in San Diego’s libraries and coffee shops.

I had a chance to catch up with Kristen Fogle, SDWI’s executive director for the past three years, to get a personal perspective on the organization. Of particular note were her thoughts about the transformative nature of what SDWI can offer.

“We’ve seen several people start or write their entire novels during our drop-in prompt-based writing sessions; read-and-critiques; [our] Blazing Laptops writing marathons; and classes … We’ve seen authors get their first pieces published in our anthology,” she said. “The best transformations I’ve been able to personally witness have come out of The Artist Way classes I co-facilitate at Writers, Ink, though. Watching people unblock and change their lives to incorporate creative practices is really cool.

“In a very small way, I’m able to guide people toward a more joyful life, which is what writing and art-making should ultimately be about,” she said.

The anthology Fogle mentions, “A Year in Ink,” now in its ninth volume, will be presented on June 7 at the Old Town Theatre.

Showcasing the poetry and prose of both emerging and more experienced writers, this is an opportunity to experience the literary talent of San Diego. This year’s volume will include short stories, novel and memoir excerpts, creative nonfiction, satire, flash fiction, and poetry.

Then on June 28, at 7 p.m., SDWI will hold their second memoir showcase at the Horton Grand Theater. A contest was held for the best memoir selections and professional actors will be evoking the winning pieces. I also took the opportunity to check in with Professor Malfara, to discuss the impact SDWI has had on her life. Part of what she has discovered is a sense of community. “Writing is typically such a solitary activity, but San Diego Writer’s Ink offers writers the opportunity to form a community by bringing them together in classes, workshops and read and critique groups,” she explained. “I’ve taken quite a few of their classes led by well-published authors who continue to inspire and help me hone my craft, and I’ve also formed a number of warm supportive friendships with other writers I’ve met there.”

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A class takes advantage of the weather just outside of Barracks 16 at Liberty Station where the nonprofit has its headquarters.

With experience that spans magazine writing and editing, theater performance, directing and visual arts, Fogle is excited at what she has witnessed in her time with SDWI and optimistic about the future.

“I’m shocked by how much we have grown in the past three years,” she said. “We have offered so many more classes, moved locations, added a space, and had a ton of collaborations in the community. I love our arts community and will continue to look for ways to work with other artists and arts organizations. I would like to investigate doing some programming in North County as well as in more of the libraries. But ultimately, I would like to continue to tap into what the community wants and offer more programs of benefit to them.”

To learn more about San Diego Writer’s Ink, their workshops, writing groups, or the two events explained above, visit sandiegowriters.org.

—Ian D. Morton is the senior program analyst at San Diego Human Dignity Foundation and produces the Y.E.S. San Diego LGBTQ youth conference. To nominate an individual or nonprofit for this column, please email the information to ian@sdhdf.org.

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