Writing as Refuge – San Francisco Zen Center

Writing as Refuge – Confronting and Transforming Loss

Sunday, August 1
10 am – 5 pm

Anyone who writes, professionally or informally, experiences how it taps a different brain from the everyday one. Invariably, the writing space, entered as in meditation, allows loss and submerged pain to float to surface. Writers often face these feelings, along with the joyful ones, as signage to meaningful, redemptive stories, taking refuge in the practice. Consider this daylong workshop, a safe haven for personal writing—about loss or gain. We will write, chat, and work on crafting your precious material, with occasional personalized “soft” critiques.

Fee: $70; $63 members; $56 limited income. Registration: Please call the City Center Office at 415.863.3136.


You needn’t be professionally writing. This is creative non-fiction – but if you want to write fiction (I do both), this workshop will still be helpful (there’s a thin semi-permeable border between fiction and non-fiction). If you want to want to work in poetry or poetic prose or other forms, experimental or conventional, that is great. They will all work well.

We will do exercises to prime the pump and to help you focus your story. And there will be periods of writing. The writing about “loss” is merely one of the boundless “dharma gates” into writing. It’s a great one, especially if your orientation is Zen-like. My experience working with individuals in past workshops has shown me that, whether they subscribe to Zen Buddhism or not,  invariably most of the “energy” of creating, of art, of writing is around real or perceived loss. This is not to ignore the wonderful trumpeting of the joys of life, but no matter what your religion or philosophy, we all are bound by the same profound message of ultimate loss/death. Or impermanence as we perhaps too glibly call it in Buddhism.

You need not share any of your writing – I work with the group and with each participant one on one in private, and that is what I mean by “soft critique.” My role is to help you see the ways to craft your art – you have the art already.

As they say in 12-step meetings – what you say or show here, stays here. So, I feel bound to protect your privacy.

Laptaps are more than welcome – I’ll also have paper and pens for everyone.

Any other questions, email me: ocaramia@earthlink.net