By Cynthia Robertson
San Carlos resident Kristen Fogle has in mind to make San Diego a bustling writers’ community. As the new executive director at San Diego Writers, Ink, she has taken giant steps in doing that, including transforming a $100,000 budget of a struggling organization to almost $300,000 a year.
Herself a writer, Fogle first came to San Diego Writers’ Ink, located in Pt. Loma’s Liberty Station, in 2013 as interim executive director.
“I was growing programming and just kind of stepped into the role. I’m fortunate; it’s been an amazing, sometimes difficult, ultimately rewarding challenge,” said Fogle, who used to live in Los Angeles.
Before Fogle took the helm at SDWI, she was editor of several college entertainment publications. She reviewed many products, attended events and interviewed celebrities like Taylor Swift and the Kardashians.
“It was an interesting niche to fall into, a lot of fun,” said Fogle, adding that she also did some freelance writing and editing as well as theater work.
In the last several years at SDWI, Fogle has tripled the number of programs, including classes and critique sessions.
Outreach with different organizations has become a staple of Fogle’s improving the programs of SDWI.
One of her favorites, she said, is a quarterly Day of Art with our neighbors The San Diego Brain Injury Foundation.
“It’s free for their members, and thanks to our Drusilla Campbell Scholarship Fund, I am able to pay artists to teach; I lead the writing portion and donate my time.
“Art, writing especially, is so important for these survivors; I would love to expand this program as it’s just so rewarding — for them and me,” she said.
Writers, Ink, to Fogle, is a resource anyone can tap into, at any level of writing. If someone is interested in a genre, Writers, Ink, the organization can direct that person to a group, a class, or a reading, and possibly connect with an instructor for a one-on-one.
“It’s really a place to explore curiosity, even as a newbie. Maybe especially if you’re a newbie,” she said.
At the top of her list for fun outreach and fundraising is the Blazing Laptops event, scheduled for May 21. This is the organization’s 10th year of this all-day write-a-thon when people devote a full day to writing in the SDWI spaces.
During the Blazing Laptops, one room is labeled quiet for people to work on fleshed out projects, and the other is the prompt room, where a guest instructor gives a writing prompt every hour. It costs $150 to participate, which includes breakfast and all-day coffee. There is also a raffle and a silent auction during the day.
“We are trying to raise $20,000 this year,” Fogle said.
The Blazing Laptops event is the major fundraiser for Writers, Ink.
“I want Writers, Ink to evolve into what its members want. If that’s more classes and workshops, that’s what they’ll get. If it’s readings, outreach with other orgs, or other events, maybe that’s where the organization will go. No matter what that looks like specifically, my goal is to keep serving writers,” she said.
As Fogle’s own personal goal, she would like to see more Writers, Ink sponsored programs in libraries.
“I love our city and county libraries, and I think it’s important that everyone has the ability to tell their stories,” she said.
In helping to develop San Diego’s writing community, Fogle has also reached out to the San Carlos library, and will be teaching a memoir writing workshop in the fall. She is also hoping to do a free drop-in writing group as well.
“My vision includes making San Diego a place where artists can live without working five jobs or having their rent increase substantially every year,” she said.
When Fogle is not working at Writers, Ink, or on many of her own writing and theater projects, she enjoys her time at home in San Carlos. She hikes Cowles Mountain, which she can see from her window. She also walks Lake Murray and Mission Trails Park.
For a quick smoothie, she goes to Pure Press, and for tasty Mexican food, she goes to Cotijas. She also does brunch at the Trails, and lunch or dinner at Basil Thai.
“I love this neighborhood. People who are from here think it’s so far from Downtown and the other neighborhoods west of us, but they’re all about 15 to 20 minutes. Coming from Los Angeles, this is the shortest commute ever,” said Fogle.
For more information about San Diego Writers, Ink, and the Blazing Laptops event, go to sandiegowriters.org.
—Cynthia Robertson is a San Diego-based freelance writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.