What we're about

In brief: A writers' critique group for creative nonfiction -- personal essays, memoirs, thought pieces, and so on.

Who this is for: This writers group is aimed at people who are serious about craft and who are planning to submit their work for publication. If you've already had work published, that's great, but it's not necessary. But it's important that you be willing to accept and provide your own thoughtful critique.

Meeting structure: We'll meet weekly to discuss work in progress, in cafes or libraries in the East Bay (primarily Oakland and Berkeley). Instead of reading our work aloud, we'll distribute sections of our work the week before, to give each of the members of the group to read and critique in advance. During the weekly meetup, we'll spend 20-30 minutes on each piece submitted for group review. Depending on the number of members, meetings will last 1.5-2 hours.

Here are a few pointers about this group:

• This Meetup is for critique of creative nonfiction: personal essays, memoir, thought pieces. I know many of us probably also write fiction. If there is a lot of interest in a fiction critique group, we can set up a separate Meetup for that.

• Since many writers in this group may be writing memoirs or more personal pieces, it's really important to respect the privacy of each writer and not discuss their writings outside the group. That would be true even if this were a fiction critique group, but it's especially sensitive when the writing is about a person's life.

• We are not going to read our work aloud in this critique group. Instead, we'll distribute sections of our work in progress for people to read off-line and then discuss the following week.

• I'm planning to create a master email list for people to use to share their texts (in Word or PDF formats). I expect some may not want to give out their email addresses, in which case we'll need to find another way to share our work (perhaps using Google Drive, or by distributing hard copies).

• If you want to bring something to share, please keep it to <3k words, and use 1.5 (or double) line spacing, and 11 or 12 point type.

• There will also be time to discuss great writings that we've found. As an example of the authors I personally admire in this genre: Rebecca Solnit, James Baldwin, Rachel Kaadzi Goldbach, Maya Angelou, Annie Dillard, Bertrand Russell, Margo Jefferson, Vivian Gornick and Yiyun Li. Not all of their writings might fall into what we currently call "creative nonfiction" and some authors also write fiction, but all these authors are great writers with things to say in this genre.

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