create / 2016

Tell Your True Tale Writer's Workshop

Tell Your True Tale Writer's Workshop

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by County of Los Angeles Public Library

Tell Your True Tale writing workshops help empower novice authors from diverse communities to write true life stories, publish their work and connect with fellow authors.


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

County of Los Angeles Public Library, Sam Quinones author, journalist, editor

Please describe your project proposal.

We will expand the Tell Your True Tale writing workshops at the LA County Library, which for three years have been helping people with little writing experience identify, write and polish their stories, creating nonfiction tales that read like fiction. We will create a community of writers turning good narratives into great ones - both online and at three workshops we propose at libraries in East LA, Compton/South-Central and Rosemead, each aimed at producing a volume of stories.

Which of the create metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Arts establishments
  • Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to create?

We’re already doing it!

New writers are making connections, sharing their work with the community and building a culture of writing in areas where this may not have existed before.

We just need help to continue and expand the project.

Up to now, Tell Your True Tale workshops have been supported by the County Library; but that support is not open-ended. We also want to diversify and include different community partners.

Since starting at ELA Library in 2013, the workshops have taken some 50 people with no previous writing experience, helped them imagine and polish their stories, then published books of their pieces – leaving them energized by the creation and eager for more. Many of the participants have taken the workshop two and three times. We are at the beginnings of a new arts organization.

We’re now up to seven volumes of their stories. These volumes form a magnificent mosaic of life, and lives, in Los Angeles. They also show the deep mine of stories out there just waiting like diamonds to be dug up and polished. Los Angeles is a collection of bubbles of people, from across the country and the world, who know little about each other. Tell Your True Tale volumes bridge that, show the depth and breadth of the people who have settled here, and present a template for how to access their stories.

We bring the community together in public gatherings – book presentations that feature the authors, let them talk about their stories, sign books, feel the energy that comes with a newly published work.

Our motto is: Write Then Rewrite. No successful communication, no great story, no real creativity, comes without rewriting, editing, and more revising. We aimed to create nonfiction stories from working people’s lives that read like fiction. Our seven books show that we have succeeded.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

We are attempting to create a community of writers, so to the extent we do so we will consider it a success. That would mean 15-20 writers producing stories, books of several themes published, a speakers series that includes talks, book presentations attended by 50-100 people, and a rich social media presence.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
  • Community outreach
  • Quality improvement research