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By Ellen Sussman

Knocking at Hedgebrook’s Door

Originally published June 19, 2014, this post by Ellen Sussman remains one of our most popular blog posts. We are re-posting it because we received an update from Ellen she wanted us to share with you. 

UPDATE 7/2015: When I posted this blog about my many years of Hedgebrook applications and my many rejection letters — then finally… an acceptance! — I didn’t expect the strong response from readers. One woman told me she had taken her rejection so personally that she had stopped writing for a while. Other women told me they certainly wouldn’t apply again after a few years (only a few years?!!) of rejection. Months later something wonderful happened — many of those same women emailed me to say that they took another chance. They applied again. And this time, they got in. 

And some women emailed me to say: well, I didn’t get in. Again. But I’ll keep trying. 

Here’s another chance, fearless women writers. Take a risk. Apply for a residency at Hedgebrook. Believe in yourself and your writing. It’s essential to what we do.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Three Weeks at Hedgebrook

The year was 1996. I recently finished graduate school and had started teaching in the California Poets in the Schools program.

Desperate to complete my first book, I wanted to find time and space just to write. Though I lived alone in a small cottage by a creek, I was constantly teaching, reading, commenting on the poems of my students, making ends meet. I was involved with many friendships and embroiled in family matters. It’s an old story.

I needed to find sustained, unburdened-by-demands-of-real-life time to put pen to paper. I needed space and quiet to focus. So I applied to Hedgebrook. I applied for a six-week stay. I applied during the summer, when I wouldn’t be teaching.    Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Why I decided to drop the ‘/activist’…

If there was anyone in this world who had never known of a transgender person, they did after last week. When Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover went viral, the internet blew up with trans activism. While some people posted their support for Caitlyn, others posted derogatory, hateful, ignorant things. Even within the LGBT community, people were divisive. And suddenly, as with many controversial issues, social media exploded and everyone had an opinion. Everyone became an activist. I have never seen more transphobia in my life than on my Facebook feed last week. I have never seen more people come to the defense of my community than on my Facebook feed last week.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Poetry Has Value, But Do We Value It?

We write poems because we love writing poems, not because we expect to make a living from it. I feel like that’s probably the most blatantly obvious statement I’ve written in a long time, but I had to start there because—as a writer who has recently become a public voice for the necessity of paying poets for their work—it’s too easy to think I believe otherwise. But, no, the fact is I wrote poetry long before I ever made a cent from it, and I’ll continue to write it regardless of whether payment sources arise or not.

  Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

On Community and Isolation

In New York City where I lived until last summer, some playwright friends and I figured out that the way to see each other, and get our work done, was to write together. Not collaborate, just set laptops side by side, set a timer (usually 45 minutes) and go. Take a timed chat break, then repeat as necessary.

I’ve used this method in my generative writing workshops too, offering students more structured prompts. Something changes when you work in the presence of a writer you know and admire. You risk a little more, turn towards the scene or sentence instead of away, hold your pee. It’s partly the shame – deliberately externalizing the inadequate internal pressure to sit still and stay offline. It’s a good tool when the writing is not so focused, or when time constraints seem impossible. It works long distance, too.

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By Hedgebrook Guest

Parenting and Playwriting: Worst Review Ever

After a decade of having plays reviewed, I like to think I have a system. If the reviews are bad, I read quickly. If they’re mixed, I read carefully. If they’re good, I eat pie. I try to learn something. I try to get over them quickly. I allow myself to experience all the feelings, but I try not to wallow. It’s all very civilized.

It also left me completely unprepared for the worst review of my life.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

And, And, And Isabella Bootlegs Interview

Samantha Cooper’s new play and, and, and Isabella Bootlegs premiered this month. Production dramaturg Sara Keats led Cooper and director Norah Elges in conversation about the women-driven heart of the play, bi-coastal collaboration, and the future of new plays with Seattle roots. You can read more of their interview at http://ow.ly/NeTzc.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Dani Shapiro’s Strategies for Giving Yourself Permission to Write

It’s hard to believe that Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, as well as five novels and the craft book, Still Writing, has struggled with giving herself permission to write.

“Permission is something that everyone who creates has to find a way to access,” says Shapiro, who was raised in an orthodox Jewish home, where it was expected that, as a woman, she would marry an investment banker and raise kids in the suburbs. “Doctors don’t graduate from medical school wondering if they’ll practice medicine; people don’t graduate from law school needing to ask permission to be an attorney. But anything we do that’s about creating something from nothing, is bushwhacking in a way. The more we’re forging our own path, the more we feel the need to be granted permission to do so. And often, there’s nobody there to give us that assurance.”   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

The musings of a writing life, with and without libations

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

By Hedgebrook Staff

Envisioning Equal Voice

Actress Patricia Arquette caught the zeitgeist by the tail last month when she capped her Oscar® speech with a clarion call for gender equity: “It’s time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.“

Applause rippled through the audience, erupting as the camera caught Meryl Streep and J-Lo leaping out of their seats. My wife, sister-in-law, nieces and I joined their cheers from our living room.

Backstage, Arquette made an unfortunate gaffe that went viral, calling for, “…all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve fought for, to fight for us now.” Her comment rubbed those of us in these communities the wrong way, by implying that LGBTQ people and people of color have achieved equality. We’re not there yet, sister!

When so many people are not being heard in the cultural conversation, drawing lines is divisive, and distracts us from the core issue: there’s an imbalance in the stories we see, read and hear. And because stories shape who we are, this is a problem.   Read more

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