Dear Jennie

By Jennie Shortridge

Categories: Alum Experiences,

As a Hedgebrook alum, I feel a little like Dear Abby, because I’ve received quite a few letters like this:

Dear Jennie,

I’m applying for a Hedgebrook residency and I’ve heard they’re nearly impossible to get! Do you have any advice, or tips or tricks for improving my chances to get in?

Sincerely,

Ima Writer

After participating in the selection process last year, I feel slightly more qualified to provide some input. If you, like Ima, have a strong desire to become a Hedgebrook sister, here’s my advice.

Dear Ima,

I feel you! I applied twice, many years apart because I got discouraged, and was ecstatic when I was awarded my own little cabin at Hedgebrook for two wonderful weeks.

So my first piece of advice is: keep trying. Well over 1000 writers apply each year for 40 residencies. Of those, far more than 40 applicants are qualified to receive spots, but there’s only so much room each year. Persistence is required!

It’s well known that Hedgebrook is looking for a diversity of voices each year. Some writers feel they may not qualify in the “diversity” department, but the truth is, diversity doesn’t necessarily mean ethnicity or sexual preference or physical ability, although those things are part of the mix. It means all kinds of things, like age, life experience, subject matter you’re passionate about, point at which you are in your writing journey, what you write (poetry, plays, nonfiction, memoir, fiction).

Each year is different: there may be an overwhelming number of young Latina poets writing about the environment one year and middle-aged Anglo journalists writing memoir the next. The goal is to create a wonderful mix of writers each year, so your unique “you-ness” may fit the bill some years, and not so much other years. (Do  I need to repeat that you should apply each year?)

The Hedgebrook selection committee is also looking for writers who want to be in the company of the other residents each night around the dinner table, to share and converse and encourage and connect with. In your application, make it clear what you bring to the conversation and to your fellow residents.

They also hope to find those who encourage and support other women writers, not only their own interests. This can be the deal maker or breaker when considering like applications. Are you a member of other organizations? Do you give back, somehow? Or are you just at the beginning of your writing journey, but want to connect with more seasoned writers, and plan to pay it forward?

And (it should go without saying), the writing sample must be polished and top-notch. Even minor mistakes or typos can give someone a good enough reason to put an application in the “not this year” pile.

Wishing you all the best in your writing, Ima, and good luck! I truly hope you get to experience the deep well and big heart of Hedgebrook when the time is right.

Kind regards,

Abb—I mean, Jennie

 

About the Author:

Jennie Shortridge is the author of five novels, including Love JennieShortridgeWater Memory and When She Flew, and has taught writing workshops at several Hedgebrook Salons. She is both a Willow and a Cedar sister.

 

Jennie will be teaching at our December Salon! Registration opens on September 1st, 2014. >>Learn more.

 

 

 

 

Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.

1 Comment

  • Dr. E Carolyn Tucker
    6:24 AM - 4 September, 2014

    Carson McCullers’s Member of the Wedding is the first book that helped me to believe I was not alone. It helped me to continue. Thanks for reminder

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