By Minal Hajratwala

The Writer’s Clock

Editor’s note: The following post is being republished from Hedgebrook Writes!


Far away from Hedgebrook: the other side of the planet. Spoke with B, N, and M — there are four of us alumnae in India, that I know of! — but our idea to meet across our distances and excitements did not work out.    Read more

By Heidi Durrow

Learning From My Old Me and My Familiar Fears

Last fall I had the wonderful opportunity to return to Hedgebrook for a two-week stay and the more amazing experience of meeting up with my old me.

Let me explain.  My first stay at Hedgebrook was in 1998.  I’d left my job as a corporate litigator and was pursuing a literary career.  The residency invitation was the first time I’d received an affirmation that I was a “real” writer even though I hadn’t published a word.   Read more

By Amy Wheeler

Hedgebrook Writes

The six cottages in the woods at Hedgebrook are situated in pairs, so that at night, when a writer is burning the midnight oil, she can see the lights from another cottage glowing through the trees and know that she’s not alone.

Writing is a solitary act. But for me, just knowing that someone is nearby when I’m floating in that creative space gives me a sense of being tethered. I can relax and focus. I always get more writing done when my wife is in the next room!

This balance – of being in solitude and in community with a small group of other women writers – is one of the unexpected gifts of a Hedgebrook residency. Alumnae often talk about how to recapture and recreate that experience in their life-after-Hedgebrook.

So we tried an experiment over Memorial Day weekend:   Read more

By Lorraine Ali

Stopping Long Enough to Sit Down and Write

I’ve been trying to finish a memoir for a couple years now, but ever since I landed a book deal I’ve somehow become the human equivalent of a magpie. Every single task, aside from writing The Book, is now a like a shiny lure that I need to pursue with gusto.

Don’t get me wrong — I do have somewhat of an excuse.  Life is packed with must dos, (work, the kid, the bi-annual vacuuming of the living room rug) and it takes up a great deal of energy. I’m also a journalist who writes for a living, so the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is, well . . . you get the idea. But not so long ago I found myself filling up every bit of free time engrossed in some sort of entirely unimportant busy work. After all, who else is going to re-grout the bathroom or de-pill that old wool jacket I haven’t worn in three years? I’d justify these mind-numbing pursuits (it gives me intellectual free time to incubate brilliant ideas for the book!) or curse the task itself for standing between me and literary greatness. Either way, I had something to tell myself as I dodged blown book deadlines like deadly IEDs.   Read more

By Shimi Rahim

The Magic of my Hedgebrook Experience

It built slowly, the magic of my Hedgebrook experience. When I first began settling into my cottage and the daily writing routine that would define the next two weeks of my life, I felt out of sorts. Hedgebrook was legendary among women writers. Did I expect that I’d walk into my storybook cottage and, like some writer’s fairy tale, the words would pour magically from my fingers? That, with solitude and three meals a day provided for me in a gorgeous setting, I would spend every waking minute churning out chapters of my first novel?

Instead, what I experienced in my early moments was rather different: feelings of unworthiness, confusion as to how to structure my day, and not a small amount of loneliness and strangeness. My fellow residents were published authors, experienced teachers, activists with years of experience under their belts. I felt small next to them and their achievements, due in no part whatsoever to them and entirely to my own insecurities. Also, they had developed a camaraderie into which I didn’t yet belong.     Read more

By Jen Marlowe

My Year as a Sponge: Wringing Out at Hedgebrook

August, 2010. We gathered each evening around the Farmhouse Table.

“What did you work on today?” someone asked.

“A section of my memoir,” one woman answered.

“A new poem,” another offered.

Invariably, one of the women turned to me. “What did you write today, Jen?”

“I wrote…a press release.”

Vito, the residency director, warned us. Writers get the most from Hedgebrook if they break away from “real life” distractions and dive deeply into writing.

I intended to do just that. To carve out those weeks to work on my book about Martina, the sister of my friend Troy Davis, an innocent man on Georgia’s death row.

It didn’t go as planned.   Read more

By Sara Campos

Trickster Muses at Hedgebrook–Summer 2009

I saw it one day while walking from my cottage to the farmhouse and it startled me. It was a clear day and its snowy peaks, crags, and ridges were visible in all their magnificent glory. Mt. Rainier. It was so stunning; it hardly looked real. It was as though a magician had sketched it with fine pastels. The next day it wasn’t there. Perhaps the artist who’d put it there erased it. During my three weeks at Hedgebrook in the summer of 2009, I glimpsed it only three times.

That mountain was a fickle trickster–sometimes it showed up; sometimes it didn’t. Like my writing muse. In the middle of the night when I least wanted its company, it blared like raucous rock music, robbing me of sleep. Other times, when I pressed my temples and sat before the computer begging for a visit, it shot out of sight. Not even a whimper.

Before I went to Hedgebrook, I worried about this. Friends teased me about it; they cringed at the very idea of living alone in the woods for three weeks. Suppose I got a cottage and no ideas came. Suppose I sat alone with a blank screen before me with nothing to do.

Aha! You are a fraud after all!   Read more

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