The California Writers Club (CWC) strives to foster professionalism in writing, promote networking of writers with the writing community, mentor new writers, and provide literary support for writers and the writing community as is appropriate through education and leadership.
The club supports all genres, writing styles and related professions such as editing, publishing, photographic journalism and agents. Membership in CWC is open to published and unpublished writers of all interests and genres, as well as supporters and those involved in writing-related fields. Our mission is to educate ourselves on the craft of writing and on publishing our work.
The Central Coast Writers Branch, (CCW) provides an environment where members can obtain critique of their efforts, attend workshops, and share experiences and to mentor writers of all ages by providing educational programs for adults and fostering youth programs. The primary goal of the Central Coast Writers branch is to facilitate for our members, and the Central Coast community of writers, a meaningful interaction with a varied and vital group of professionals in the business and craft of writing.
In 2009 the California Writers Club celebrated its 100th birthday! Today, with 22 robust branches, CWC is the largest writers organization in California, and the oldest continuously active such institution in the nation. The Central Coast Writers branch of CWC received its charter in July, 2002 and is proud to represent the California Writers Club on the Central Coast.
The California Writers Club grew from the literary movement in the San Francisco Bay area where the circle at the Coppa Club included Jack London, poet George Sterling and short story writer Herman Whitaker. From these informal gatherings came the Press Club of Alameda, a faction of which in 1909 formed the California Writers Club. Austin Lewis, an English civil libertarian, was the first president. The Club incorporated in 1913, choosing as its motto "Sail On!" from Joaquin Miller's poem Columbus with the goal of promoting the fellowship and personal and professional growth of writers.
Between 1912 and 1914, active membership grew from 60 to 118. Early honorary members included Joaquin Miller, Songs of the Sierra, environmentalist John Muir, Ina Coolbrith (first California poet laureate), and journalist Charles Fletcher Lummis. Others included Jack London, an occasional speaker at the Club, and his friend George Sterling. In the 30s, historical novelist and feminist Gertrude Atherton, A Daughter of the Vine, and Kathleen Norris, Certain People of Importance, were admitted as honorary members.
Large banquets and elegant affairs characterized club activities in the 1920s and 1930s. In the early 1920s, Berkeley poet Charles Keeler, The Simple Home, served as president and encouraged more emphasis on poetry and dramatic arts. The Club expanded in Northern California during these decades.
The Club soon began publishing members' works. WEST WINDS, a hardcover collection of fiction illustrated by California artists, was published in 1914, and went into eight printings. Jack London and Rebecca N. Porter were among its contributors. WEST WINDS: A Book of Verse, came out in 1925, with poetry by Ina Coolbrith, George Sterling, Edwin Markham, Charles and Ormeida Keeler, and seventy other members. Six years later WEST WINDS 111: A Book of Fiction, was published with contributions by Agnes Morley Cleveland, No Life for a Lady, and Charles Caldwell Dobie, San Francisco Tales. Other poetry collections followed during the 1930s.
The Club tradition of planting trees to honor California writers and poets began in 1930. The "Writers Memorial Grove" at Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland is on land which originally belonged to Miller, who dreamed of establishing a memorial for artists and writers there. The first trees planted honored Joaquin Miller, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, South Sea Idyls, Edward Roland Sill, A Fool's Prayer, Ina Coolbrith, Jack London, Mark Twain, Charles Fletcher Lummis, and Edwin Markham. The Berkeley Branch has since added trees in recognition of Dashiel Hammett, Gertrude Stein, and historians Will and Ariel Durant. In the 1940s, the site was named "Woodminster" and expanded by the addition of an amphitheater.
At the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, the Club presented weekly literary talks which were well received. As an outgrowth of these literary events, the Club sponsored its first Writers Conference in Oakland in 1941. By the 1950s these educational meetings had become annual affairs. Today, many branches sponsor their own conferences, workshops, and all have regular member programs.
After 100 years, the State-wide members of California Writers Club continue to "Sail On!" exploring new literary horizons.