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By Rita Gardner

Fog and Flow on the Path to Publication

A few weeks ago on a mountain hike, a friend who has been following my writing journey asked me enthusiastically: “So, now that you’ve finished writing your book, are you in bliss until it gets published?” At the time we were slogging along a very foggy trail on Mt. Tamalpais near San Francisco. While that trek often provides vistas of rolling hills, the blue Pacific and a glimpse of islands far out to sea, we were so shrouded in mist that day I often lost sight of the hikers ahead of me. Not a good idea. On these trails we are cautioned not to get too far behind our group, so as not to accidentally become coyote or mountain lion “bait.”   Read more

By Jen Marlowe

Troy Davis: The Human Price of the Death Penalty

This piece was originally published on Tikkun Daily and can be accessed here.

It was September 21, 2011. I stood on the grounds of the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison, holding Troy Davis’s younger sister on one side and his teen-aged nephew on the other, with other supporters wrapping us all in a tight circle of prayer, as we waited in agonizing tension to learn whether Troy Anthony Davis would be killed by the state of Georgia that night.

He was.   Read more

By Shobha Rao

The Alder Tree

It was yellow, shaped like a balloon, and at the far edge of the meadow.  I sat at the window seat in Oak Cabin, all day and most of the night, watching it.  It was not more or less beautiful than the rest of the grounds at Hedgebrook:  the cattail pond, the cedar grove, the farmhouse with its warm kitchen, the silent trees that stood so still and majestic, but this tree drew my attention.  It was at the very end of my line of vision, and though I didn’t know the names of any of the trees, I really only wanted to know the name of this one.  I realized I could’ve asked anyone – anyone at all – and learned the name.  But I never did.  I didn’t have to.  It would reveal itself to me, as I revealed myself to it.  Through the long, hushed nights, when the crackle of the fire was the only sound, I would stare at the tree and wonder.  All those empty roads, all those aching years, writing and writing and writing.  Wondering if they would ever come to anything.  Wondering if I was good enough, talented enough, lucky enough.  Hedgebrook was the greatest gift I had ever received in my writing life, yet what if it was the last of my share?   Read more

By Deborah Davis

Just show them the page. See what happens.

A friend recently wrote a lovely blog piece for Hamline University’s “The Storyteller’s Inkpot”  about the surprising delights we may encounter—in travel, in writing, in life—when our plans don’t go as expected. That prompted me to think about surprises I’ve encountered when my teaching plans don’t go as expected. Or, as in the case I’m about to describe, when my lack of planning leads to some pleasant—and useful—surprises.   Read more

By Leah Lax

Hedgebrook Taught Us These Things

Upstairs my desk faces a broad window that looks out over the Oregon coast just north of Tillamook, where two silhouettes are strolling the wet beach that looks like a mirror and a wag-tailed dog is running around them, into the foaming surf and back again. Six of us Hedgebrook alums have created our own little writing retreat in the Oregon Writers’ Colony Colonyhouse in Rockaway Beach, Oregon. We sleep each night with the steady low ocean roar as backdrop to our dreams.   Read more

By Ann Hedreen

Happy Birthday, Gloria Steinem

Happy Birthday, Gloria Steinem. If you are what eighty looks like, then there is hope in this world. And it is high time I thanked you for a few things.

First: Six years ago, for two weeks of my life, you gave me courage to get out of bed. It was April 2008. A cold April: frost every day, even a few snow flurries. Each morning, I huddled under the covers in the loft of Owl Cottage, reading your brilliant book of essays, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.   Read more

By Elaine Elinson

How Hedgebrook Sheltered Me from the Cossacks

I brought my grandmother with me to my last residency at Hedgebrook.  Together we settled into Oak Cottage, lit the fire, put the water on for tea.

Over the next two weeks, with her photo as my screensaver, I pored through her diaries, lovingly handwritten in pencil, in Yiddish, on yellowing paper held together by fraying and chipped brown cardboard covers.

In the comfort of the cottage, I tried to shape a story from her stories.  Should it be about her working until midnight in a Chicago garment factory, wishing she were a poet?  Should it be about a lost love, the one who married another but still slid his hand on her thigh at political meetings?  Should I start with me reading the diaries or her harrowing tale of having to leave Russia after the pogroms terrorized Jews in her shtetl and all around her.   Read more

By Andrea Stolowitz

Playwriting in the Pacific NW

My Background:

I came to the Pacific Northwest in 2007, specifically to Portland, Oregon. We moved here because my husband got a job at Reed College, but the truth was I was ready for a change from the itinerant life I’d been living. From 1994-2007 my husband and I, and then our kids, lived in NYC; Berlin, Germany; San Diego, CA; and Durham, NC for various academic and professional gigs. In each of those places what I most wished for was an artistic home–a place where I could live and work, get what I needed to be supported as an artist, and be inspired by that place.

As this is a conference for writers of all genres and since playwrights fit into the strangest category of writers–neither fish nor fowl, not really fully embraced by the literary world nor the theatrical one, I will include here a bit of information about being a playwright in the United States.   Read more

By Ana Maria Jomolca

Nomads, Sentinels and Persephone

I don’t know anyone, outside of monks and Charles Manson who spends as much time alone as I do.  I’m sure they exist but they’re not within [my] earshot or sightline.  Even the homeless are out there meeting new people everyday.

I nearly always feel as though I am working and creating in a vacuum. This I’ve heard and read ad nauseum goes with the territory of writing and the initial tremors of any creative process. That moment between vacant and percolating.  Between idea and form. How to be at peace in those moments when it is just you and your creating; whether sitting with a character who just barged into your kitchen catching you staring at a blank page, or the countless hours that elapse as you draw the same set of lips and fists over and over and once again because it is not quite right, yet.  Because it has not captured precisely the anguish, rage, joy, defeat, triumph, helplessness, the all and all at onceness that has your protagonist heaving and punching at the air.    Read more

By Amy Wheeler

VIDA’s Call to Adventure

In the Hero’s Journey mythic story structure, the hero hears the “call to adventure” and then makes a choice: she can refuse the call, or she can leap into the adventure.

VIDA sounded a call with The Count several years ago, and the impact of their message is still reverberating loud and clear: women are not being equally heard in the cultural conversation.

The implication of this fact is the real stunner. If you understand that storytellers shape our culture, then “Who gets to be our storytellers?” becomes a pivotal question.   Read more

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