The musings of a writing life, with and without libations

By Hedgebrook Guest

Writing chose me, not the other way around. I’m sure many people feel that way about their vocation or avocation. And just as many have experienced the ups, downs, and sideways moments that their work brings them. What those moments look and feel like are different for each person, and how each person handles them is also unique. Wordsmithing my way through life—technical/marketing writer by day and nascent novelist by night—I’ve experienced the full gamut of emotions.   Read more

How I became a Radical Black Feminist

By Hedgebrook Guest

A day after the Oscars there is a media frenzy over the Patricia Arquette acceptance speech at the Oscars, where she called for an end to the wage disparity between men and women in the United States. I do not think that anyone can argue about whether that part of her speech was wrong in any way. However it seems her back stage comments resulted in a furor because she states that gays and people of color should join them in the fight for wage equality, the same way that they (white women presumably) fought for them.   Read more

The un-Book Tour

By Hedgebrook Guest

 

I’m not new to writing, but I am brand-new to being an author. It’s a word I’ve longed to claim my whole life, and this September, I did, with She Writes Press’s publication of my memoir, Her Beautiful Brain.

I understood—and my freelance publicist gently worked with me on this—that as a non-famous, first time book author, it did not make sense to attempt to book what you’d call a tour with a capital T. So I decided to start out with one big, morale-boosting hometown event: a launch reading at Elliott Bay Book Company, the Seattle bookstore I’ve loved since I was a girl. All summer long, I spread the word, and on September 7 at 3 p.m., people showed up. And by people, I mean family, friends, clients, colleagues; so many people we were pulling out extra chairs and spilling up the stairs. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in September. 110 people! I couldn’t believe it. I had practiced, I was ready, and though standing up in front of them all was one part terrifying, it was many, many parts thrilling.   Read more

My Favorite Rejection Letter

By Hedgebrook Guest

I’ve been submitting my writing for publication for exactly fifteen years now. My first ever submission, to a small local journal, was mailed on January 10, 2000. On February 1, I submitted a short piece to a local contest. I never heard back from either.

On February 12, 2000, I mailed a submission to another local contest. I received a phone call shortly thereafter that I had won. I still remember playing the message back several times on the old answering machine. You know the kind that beeps and clicks and rewinds the miniature cassette tape, which ceaselessly fascinates the cat?

My 8th submission that year resulted in a Hedgebrook residency. My 14th resulted in being published by the esteemed journal Calyx.

Not bad for a first year. But consider that with three acceptances, I also collected eleven rejections.   Read more

Holding Each Other Up Hedgebrook Style

By Hedgebrook Guest

“We’ll need to hold each other up.” That’s what Anita Gail Jones Roerick (Fir 94) wrote in an email when I informed her of my plan to launch a support group for women writing our first books. I hadn’t met her; all I knew was that she was a Hedgebrook alum (94).

In the fall of 2009, shortly after my first summer residency, Hedgebrook staff spearheaded the formation of leadership councils in a number of cities. I had the good fortune of attending a meeting and becoming part of the council in the Bay Area. The Hedgebrook Mothership, as we called it, was somewhat vague about what it wanted councils to do and gave us space to coordinate activities that grew organically out of the interests of local alums.

  Read more

Pregnant With Possibility

By Hedgebrook Guest

My son pulled the nipple from his mouth and Coke shot straight up his nose. He snorted, and coughed. I shushed him. He was barely heavy enough to hold the movie seat in the down position. Before 6pm a movie cost two dollars; my son got in free since he was still in diapers. The movie was Purple Rain. We were watching it for the fifth time.

In the middle of my first year of high school, I became pregnant with my son. I was fifteen, and amazingly, knew everything. Nobody could tell me how to live my life. I planned to leave school, have my baby (who would adore me at all times) get an apartment with a hammock for a bed, and a fancy job at an office. There, I would wear cat-eye glasses, and a pencil skirt, while taking dictation. First, I’d need to learn dictation, but that was a technicality.   Read more

A Footbridge from Cedar Cottage

By Hedgebrook Guest

The truth is, I resisted writing this blog. Not because I don’t love Hedgebrook — in fact I do, with every bone in my body. Not because the experience isn’t transformative — I cherish it as life-changing. Not because I don’t carry the feeling of writing in Cedar cottage with me— it’s in the blood pumping from my heart, braided into my double-helix, the DNA of who I am becoming.

Lying on a couch made of nine cows, home sick under a blue blanket, at high noon I realized I’ve resisted this. I can feign shock and pretend I don’t know why. I can make excuses about being swamped with preparing to go abroad, long hours selling fruits at the farmers market, the strain of reading statutes, the stress of moving across the country. But we are all too smart for that.   Read more

On Reaching

By Hedgebrook Guest

Last night, I was talking to my mother, who I hadn’t seen in a while, since before I left for Hedgebrook. She asked me how it was, and towards the end of an unbroken monologue (the figs! the llamas! the beveled glass in the cottage windows!) I told her that it was there I was able to start a daily yoga practice again: every morning, I woke, dozed and read in bed for a little while, then clambered down the stairs and did some postures—nothing fancy or extensive, just enough to remind my body of itself.   Read more

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