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By Judy Branfman

“Free speech, rights, and writing…”

On Bill of Rights Day (December 15th – who knew!) the local Fox station did a story on my great-aunt Yetta’s precendent-setting free speech case – and my documentary about it. I’m not quite done with the film but this milestone of a huge TV viewership for my work took me back to the beginning of the filmmaking journey: my trip to Hedgebrook.

Hedgebrook accepted me, having published only a couple journalistic essays about art and politics in New England. But I had a passionate dream of turning my aunt’s story into a documentary film. Her activism evolved into the US Supreme Court’s first affirmation of free speech rights and helped lay the groundwork for our right to protest and dissent, but my potential “star,” aunt Yetta, had been telling me “no” for years and even questioning if I had the “right” to tell her story. Even so, I had been driving around Southern California doing research in courthouses and small-town archives – and even started getting grants for the project. And I had also started doing interviews for a somewhat related book.   Read more

By Brenda Miller

The Yoga of Writing

The first time I went on a writing retreat, I had no idea what I was doing. And get this: I went for two months! I arrived at Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island, in the winter of ’94, with my clunky Mac Classic in tow, a box of books, a sack full of travel journals, and lots of big ideas about writing.

I soon found out, rather painfully, that big ideas about writing often lead you nowhere. Those big ideas sit in the middle of the room, daring you to write something good. Something good and something long. They glower at you. They grumble and complain. They make you hungry just an hour after breakfast. They give you a whopping headache. They make you look at the clock and wonder if anyone would notice if you just headed home, say, 7 weeks early.   Read more

By Lois Bertram

Snapshot of a Miracle

 I told Vito as he gave a very young Clarisa and me an overview of the grounds, “I knew my selection was probably a mistake but I was coming anyway.”  Then when I walked into my cottage, Owl, I knew I was home.  One chair, one desk, one cup, one bowl, one plate in a charming intimate space heated by a small wood burning stove.  When I took off my shoes, it wasn’t about housekeeping but treading on consecrated ground. I wondered whose feet had walked these worn pine floors before me.   Read more

By Allison Green

Hegebrook Sisterhood

I don’t believe in sisterhood.

I came out into a lesbian-feminist community in the mid-1980s that was split between women who thought us purer, lovelier, and in all ways superior to men and those who wanted to claim a fuller humanity, including the potato-bug undersides of our psyches, like our racism, our capacity for violence, our complicity. Enumerate the seven deadly sins, and I’ve sinned them, even against my sisters.   Read more

By Donna Miscolta

When Your Family Thinks They’re in Your Fiction

“Why did you kill me off in that story?”

Some years ago my younger daughter confronted me with this question after she had read a story I had recently completed. The story is about two sisters. I have two daughters. My older daughter insists that she is the narrator in that story.

“It’s not about you,” I said to each of them.   Read more

By Donna Miscolta

Remedies for Writer’s Envy

Writing a book seems almost effortless compared to promoting it. I don’t think I ever suffered from writer’s envy before I had a book published. I’m pretty sure I have it now. Not chronically or acutely. Just now and then.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful for the support I’ve received from friends, family, and my local bookstores. But like a spoiled child, I want more. I want bigger. I want what she has, the one with the book tour, or her with all the interviews, or him with the movie deal.

I’m on my own path, I tell myself. So when I’m tripped up by writer’s envy, I tend to my bruises with my own particular remedies.   Read more

By Anastacia Tolbert

Change

oh mother moon

looks like you’ve got a story to tell
tell us.

tell us at least half.
light our eyes like stars—

pause our busy & our blue rays.
give us something to tell our neighbors.

tell the news. tell our children.

whisper one version here.

one version there.

let us come together & cipher it out the next day.

let us all say i know… she told me too.

Having just witnessed a lunar eclipse in the heavens of Japan, I feel changed.

It isn’t the kind of change that one would wear like a new scarf or sassy hat, nor is it the kind of change that happens rapidly like walking into a building in daylight and returning to a parked car in darkness. It is a simmering crock pot kind of change…or, picture the late 80’s when teen agers wore pleather jackets, penny loafers and white socks and got in long lines and did the “tic.” One upward then downward motion of the hand and wrist slowly moving to the elbow, then the upper arm, then the neck and head, then miraculously to the next person. Yes. This is the kind of change I am speaking of. Crock pot 80’s dance change.   Read more

By Cathy Bruemmer

I’m a Reader not a Writer

When I give tours or orientations I am frequently asked, “Are you a writer?”  I’m not a writer. I’m a reader.   One of my rare pleasures is a chance to read a book from cover to cover in one day, preferably in my pajamas.  On a recent solo trip across the country I found myself shocked that the flight was almost over.  This happened BOTH WAYS.  All it took to transform the drudgery and discomfort of coach seats was a couple of good books and some earplugs.  Because I was traveling with my son I suppose the fact that I didn’t have to provide snacks, entertainment or listen to a few hours of chatter about the latest development in ski technology played a part in the feeling of a time warp.  But what made the trip a pleasure was the opportunity to enter a different world, to hear a new story. The gift of a good book is something I am deeply grateful for.   Read more

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