Writing Past Shame: Writing the Tough Stuff Without (Too Much) Fear

Led by Anna March, Wendy C. Ortiz and Antonia Crane

December 4 – 6, 2015

Villa Ojai


Join us for a  3-day writing workshop to push past shame and fear and take your writing to the next level. Writers of all kinds and at all levels of experience — from brand new to widely published — are encouraged to attend. You don’t need to be brave or have writing experience to be part of this weekend, you just need to have a desire to write and to join us in all our flawed, gorgeous humanity. There will be a real emphasis on respecting privacy and boundaries and confidentiality, and no pressure to share.

(This workshop is open to women and gender non-conforming folks only.)

Please email anna@annamarch.com with any questions.
For real time updates and additional information, visit the Facebook page.



Pricing below is inclusive of all lodging, meals, snacks, coffee service and wine. Pricing does not include transportation to/from Villa Ojai. There are a total of 16 spaces. Only 1 is still available. More information and photos of each space can be found under “Accommodations” below.

1 space left (out of 12):
Single bed in a shared room with shared bathroom in Main House.
Shared Occupancy  –  $890 per person

2 spaces available: SOLD OUT
Single bed in a cozy, glamping-style, canvass platform tent, known as a tea house. Shared bathroom in Main House.
Private Occupancy  –  $800 for solo occupancy, if available. Please email to inquire. 
Shared Occupancy  –  $600 per person 

2 work-study scholarship spaces available*: SOLD OUT
Single bed in a cozy, glamping-style, canvass platform tent, known as a tea house. Shared bathroom in Main House.
Shared Occupancy  –  $410 per person 
(Please expect to pitch in here and there over the weekend for no more than 3 hours of work over the weekend, no more than 1 hour per day. No specific tasks expected, we might not even need help, but want to have a couple of extra pairs of hands on site, just in case.)

*One of these two spots is reserved for a woman of color.



A $500 deposit is required to hold your spot.
If you are a work study registrant, a $250 deposit is required to hold your spot.

Once your deposit is placed, your remaining balance will be due November 1. There are no cancellations/refunds, but you can sell or give your spot to someone else if necessary.

To begin registration for the workshop, click here and fill out the form provided. Completion of the form notifies us of your intent to register, it does not guarantee you a spot. Once the form is completed, you will a receive an email with further instructions for payment via PayPal. Your spot will be held for 2 days, pending receipt of your deposit amount.

Click here to begin your registration!



We will explore writing about difficult topics from our lives, challenges to such writing and ways these difficult subjects can make our work rich and vibrant as well as how our complex feelings of shame can both feed our work and block us from writing that is true.

This workshop will be warm, welcoming, open and intense — not scary intense but intense as in full and rich. Intimate — a group bonding experience. We will be connected and have fun while we work.

We want you to feel like you cracked the sky open in your writing after this weekend. It’s okay to bring hard stuff here. We’re not scared by hard stuff. Honey lambs, we KNOW about hard stuff. And we’re going to tell you all about it. And how we wrote about it. And how we write about it still. And how we move past shame and fear and uncertainty and doubts so hard and big they sometimes feel bigger than us. We’re going to work with you to crack through shame and doubt and fear and also take a look at where it lurks in your writing life. Are these things keeping you from telling a story? Leading you like a deceitful snake to the wrong story, perhaps a safe story? Are they keeping you from writing the story you want to tell? Distracting you? Paralyzing you? Do you know what you want to write but are afraid of what others will think of you or whom you might hurt in the telling? Do you have a hard time figuring out how to get started or keep going or go deeper into writing about hard topics, topics that veer close to shame for you? Maybe you are struggling in writing about your body or a past-trauma or mistakes you’ve made or sex or failure or parents or kids or addiction or a difficult relationship or money or anger or mental or physical illness or a tragedy or family secret? Maybe it’s hard to know how graphic to get? Between the three of us, we’ve grappled with almost all of those issues and concerns and topics. We’re excited — truly — to talk with you about what we’ve learned and how we use those lessons in our writing.

It promises to be a weekend full of good writing, breaking through fears, making new friends and intense learning about ourselves. We will find our stories, go deeper into them, navigate a path to reaching the next step in our process and maybe even see our work in a whole new way.

In addition to workshop sessions where we explore fear and shame and writing difficult topics — and how to move past blocks — we will talk craft a bit and generate some new material and go deeper into work and make an action plan for your next steps. There will be a handout of suggested readings. Wendy and Antonia will sign their books if you’d like. We will do a Q & A about publishing. Everyone will leave with a larger, braver heart — we hope — and a little gift pack: the requisite literary tote bag, a craft book and some other inspirational bits.

There will be delicious food and plenty of wine. Our Antonia has been in recovery for 20+ years so rest assured it is a welcome space for those who don’t drink.


Please know that there will be no pressure to share. Maybe you’re more interested in listening and soaking it up than sharing much of your story and what you’re working on — and that’s fine. We want this workshop to meet you wherever you are — and at whatever level or writing experience you have — and work for you on that level.

 Click here for the tentative schedule for the weekend!



Click here to see the full photo gallery and get a sense of the property.

Photos of the rooms for the 12 spots in the main house can be seen by viewing the gallery or clicking the links below. All 12 are single beds and there are shared bathrooms.

5 beds are in Master
2 beds are in Private Room Off Master
2 beds are in Sleeping Porch Off Master
3 beds are in Bedroom Three

Photos of the tea houses can be seen in the Villa Ojai Facebook photo gallery or by clicking the links below.

Tea House Daytime
Tea House Nighttime
Tea House Interior

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions/concerns about lodging.

If you are disabled, the property is one level and mostly wheelchair accessible and we can discuss strategies for how we can accommodate you. Please email me.

If you are worried about privacy/shared baths/etc. — I offer this: I am an only child who is BAD about sharing rooms/bathrooms — and I would totally attend this retreat.


Food, Wine, Beverages:

Private Chef Robin is on board to make a great weekend of food. She is an Ojai Treasure with and emphasis on vegetarian Mediterranean cooking with a California Twist.

Cost is inclusive of coffee, tea, water and juice served throughout the weekend. Dinner Friday, 3 meals and snacks on Saturday and breakfast Sunday are included. AND: Hot chocolate and s’mores. We will have ample s’mores fixings and s’mores hacks to make around the fire.

If you have allergies or dietary needs, let us know and we will do our best to accommodate them — though we can’t guarantee it, we will let you know if we can. And we will try!

A plentiful variety of (mostly) California wines will be available on both evenings — before, during and after dinner. If you have other food and beverage (alcoholic or non) wants or needs, please feel free to bring and store in the kitchen. (You will be responsible for preparation). We will send a full menu around at least two weeks before the workshop.


Click here to begin your registration!