Don’t Write! (Your Best Writing Tip)

By Hedgebrook Guest

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a writer in this world. Not about the need to raise our diverse voices, or to break down the barriers that keep too many of us silent; not about the role of writers to expand our collective understanding of what it means to be human. I’ve been thinking about the opposite: about how our current culture is strangling art, and how we are letting it.   Read more

From Soup to Nuts

By Hedgebrook Guest

In my previous life as a management consultant, we mapped processes “from soup to nuts,”* which is a delicious way to explain my writing process.

 

Soup: Idea Consommé

My novels begin with a single idea, be it theme, bizarre character trait, or what-if scenario. This simmers for months or years among thousands of other ideas while I write other books and live life.   Read more

Knocking at Hedgebrook’s Door

By Ellen Sussman

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

Dani Shapiro’s Strategies for Giving Yourself Permission to Write

By Hedgebrook Guest

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

AWP: An Opportunity to Exercise Literary Citizenship

By Hedgebrook Guest

Spring is in the air and that means the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference is just around the corner. This is the one literary event I bookmark in my calendar years in advance, and for which I schedule everything else around; it’s a must-attend event in my books.

I often speak about what opportunities writers may find during AWP. Yet in addition to the socializing, schmoozing, and general knowledge intake, there are also countless ways in which to exercise literary citizenship. But what is literary citizenship? And why, of all places, would a writer elect to spend time doing activities seemingly unrelated to her own particular writing path?   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

Outliners Vs “Outlawers”

By Hedgebrook Guest

Writers, I have generally observed, tend to write their first draft from one of two camps. They are either Outliners or Outlawers. Outliners prepare; they are ready; they have journals and graphs, stimulating scents and special writing music and Outlawers… well they don’t. I am a hand on heart confessed Outlawer. There is only one way I can write the first words of a new project, and that is running with my hands in the air screaming towards the amusement park of my imagination. I arrive at my keyboard on day one with a 100 different half-blown cobbled together ideas, scenes and sketchy characters all breaming inside me like a stove full of pressure cookers ready to blow. Then once, I start writing there is no real rhyme or reason to my first draft. My process goes something like this, Okay, first the Rollercoaster, no, no the Carousel, then the Ferris Wheel then I have to tackle those high swings and OMG is that the Haunted House. Usually what dictates the first tentative lines of my latest masterpiece is what shouts the loudest in the vaudevillian theater of my imagination. I can often start right in the middle of a story some odd, unimportant scene that has been haunting me for weeks. It comes to me complete with a gang of derelict characters that have been following me around like a bad smell hollering “me, me, pick me, write me.”   Read more

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