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Meet Rex Weiner of Todos Santos Writers Workshop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rex Weiner.

Rex, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been a journalist, author, editor and publisher all my life, first in New York City, then in Los Angeles since 1981.. Working with the written word as a daily adventure has taken me all over the world.

A ten-year interlude as a screenwriter for movies and TV delivered a measure of financial success, allowing me to become co-owner with some friends of a 150-year old hacienda in Todos Santos, a small fishing and farming village in Baja California Sur, Mexico, just an hour north of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific coast.

My friends are also writers and filmmakers, traveling between New York, Los Angeles and Todos Santos. After thirty years of inhabiting the exotic casa grande, with its courtyard gardens and fruit orchards, we decided to share our home and our lifetime of creative expertise by forming the Todos Santos Writers Workshop.

Beginning in 2014 with a handful of students from the village’s ex-pat community, TSWW has grown to include 25 attendees flying in mid-winter from all over the map for our workshops in memoir, fiction, poetry, and stage & screenwriting (which I teach). The upcoming session, February 2 – 9, 2019, will mark our sixth year.

As an independent editorial consultant based in Los Angeles, I extend the same TSWWW style and method of instruction to writers through workshops and personal consultations in and around the city. I also offer this service remotely via email to writers outside of the LA area.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My own career has been forged through on-the-job experience, without a thought toward gaining a degree in journalism or creative writing. So I’ve experienced the ups and downs of a transitional media industry, as have many professionals, going from editorial staff positions at publications such as Variety in the 1990s, to freelancing for many different magazines and online reporting organizations today. Teaching was never in my plans, but the experience of sharing my own knowledge has been life-changing, and just as rewarding for my TSWW partners, who have their own considerable credentials as writers, teachers, and editors.

There have been challenges over the years. Looking after a couple of dozen people who have flown a great distance to a foreign place is a responsibility we take seriously. Airport arrivals and departures at Los Cabos Airport are accomplished with military precision, and we haven’t lost anyone yet.

Once everyone is checked in at their boutique hotels and residences, the daily routine begins. Everyone participates in morning workshops; in addition, there are optional craft seminars and nighttime fiestas throughout the week-long session. This allows plenty of time to write, to visit the beach for whale watching, to dine on the excellent local cuisine and to explore our beautiful, little pueblo magico, with its many cafes, art galleries, and quiet dirt roads through chile pepper fields and orchards.

The day starts by gathering in the courtyard garden under a tall pair of coco palms as the sun is rising, with a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, among a circle of people who are keen on learning the craft of writing. We then break into workshops set up all over the property: Memoir meets under the palapa, Fiction under the wild fig, Poetry under the mango trees, and my Stage & Screen Writing group meets in the cool of the casa salon. Some participants have brought manuscripts along to be fixed, furthered, or finished. Others are looking for a place to start.

Everyone has questions and challenges along the way – a plot dead-ending, characters misbehaving on the page, language that has gone flat for one reason or another. I can reassure everyone because I’ve been there. I’ve faced the same challenges, as have our other experienced instructors, and we go on from there. Because that is what we do—go on.

The literary magic happens in Todos Santos, miraculously, it seems, but really because it’s just a matter of doing it. Most of the time, anyway, because the most difficult challenge is staying in your seat and keeping at it, which is true everywhere. We’ve seen some terrific writing come out of the workshop and we’re so proud of our TSWW community. Many of our students keep coming back year after year, as their work progresses. Some work with their instructors via email throughout the rest of the year.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Todos Santos Writers Workshop – what should we know?
In addition to the annual workshop in Baja, I work as an editorial consultant in Los Angeles, bringing the TSWW style of instruction to groups attending satellite workshops in various locations around the city. I am also available for private manuscript consultations via email and in person. I read manuscripts and stories, discuss plot structure, character, and style, and give my notes, according to an affordable menu of fees.

I’m known as the author of two books, my work as a member of the board of trustees for Beyond Baroque, which is the Venice, CA, literary center, where I also conduct a regular live author interview series called I READ YOUR BOOK AND… I’ve also taught creative writing and screenplay writing to middle-school kids at LA’s public charter City School.

I’ve been a member of the Writer’s Guild West since 1981, and my screenplays for film and TV are credited on IMDB. You’ll find my many articles for The Paris Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, L’Officiel and other magazines online.

At TSWW, we’re proud of our instructors, all of whom are experienced published writers who arrange their busy schedules to have ten days in Baja each year to mentor emerging writers. The environment and sense of community allow the writer to feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. Minus the mango tree and coco palms, that same feeling is brought to the workshops I conduct in LA.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Although writing is by its nature a solitary activity, the emerging writers who come to us become part of the TSWW family, thus they are never alone. As an independent editorial consultant, my goal, likewise, is to be supportive to writers as they pursue their projects.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Emanuela Gardner, Nick Triolo and Mariana Thome

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