In Willow Cottage at Hedgebrook

By Hedgebrook Guest

Categories: Alum Experiences, Women's Voices,

The past few weeks have been by turns exciting, sorrowful, grief-filled, stressful and exhilarating. From flying to Paris for a two-week holiday, only to find out my younger sister had died suddenly during our overnight flight, to coming home to a house still filled with unpacked boxes from Rob’s move to Santa Barbara over Christmas, to preparing for a week at Hedgebrook, it has been a tumultuous time.

Willow Sign

Today is my fourth day among the quiet cedars and oaks of Hedgebrook, a retreat center for women writers on Whidbey Island in the Pacific Northwest. In January, I was accepted into a Master Class with poet Carolyn Forché, and so far it has gone beyond my every expectation. There are six women here, from all over the country: Chicago, California, Texas, Washington, Oregon, Washington, D.C. We each have our own cabin, with practically every convenience. There is a tiny half-bath, which means one has to go to the shared bathhouse for showers, which was my only small concern. But the bathhouse turns out to be a warm and inviting spa, with heated floors and lovely showers and a claw-footed tub for long, luxurious soaks, lit by candles, if one so desires.

We meet in the afternoons for lectures and to share work, and Carolyn has insisted that each of us write for three hours every morning—uninterrupted. This has been my greatest challenge, of course. It helps that there is no Internet in the cabins (unfortunately, my cell phone and iPad work great, which makes it very easy to cheat, and I have—just a tiny bit). I have tried to follow the directive, though, and after three days I’m pleased with the work that has resulted. Raw, unedited, emotion-laced, my writing these past days is nevertheless exciting if only for the fact that I have long stretches of time to decompress and go deeply into it. I’ve written about my sister, and added pieces to a novel I started years ago, and I’ve written new scenes for my memoir.

I have also managed to post something on my blog each day, and hope to continue. We’ll see what happens when I go back to real life next week.

I am in the cabin called Willow. It was randomly assigned to me, but the willow has special significance to me, and so the selection seems to have been divinely wrought. I grew up in Michigan, where weeping willows are both abundant and inspiring. I have always loved them, and over the years the willow has appeared in nearly all of my stories in some fashion or another. When one of my clients independently published his memoir last year (Dick Jorgensen’s lovely O Tomodachi), I created an imprint under which to publish it: Weeping Willow Books.

Carolyn has given me some very helpful suggestions on my memoir, Face, and so I have decided to stop excerpting pieces of it on the blog—for now anyway. I want to revisit it with her advice in mind, and then will decide what to do from there.

I also have two other book projects on the front burners, including an anthology for women writers. More about those in coming weeks and months.

Willow CottageMeanwhile, I will keep writing about our travels, and my life, and books. I hope you’ll continue to join me here. If you’d like to receive my posts in your email inbox, you can sign up at this link. I’ll also see you on Facebook and Twitter. As always, keep writing!

 

This blog was originally posted on Marcia’s website and can be accessed here.

About the Author:

Marcia MeierMarcia Meier is an award-winning writer, editor, coach, and founding director of the Summer Writing Institute at Antioch University, Santa Barbara.

 

She is the author of Navigating the Rough Waters of Today’s Publishing World, Critical Advice for Writers from Industry Insiders (Quill Driver Books, 2010) and Santa Barbara, Paradise on the Pacific, a coffee table book published in 1996 by Longstreet Press in Atlanta. Her latest book, Face, A Memoir, is forthcoming.

She has freelanced or written for numerous publications, including the Los Angeles Times, The Writer magazine, Santa Barbara Magazine, Pacific Standard Magazine online and The Huffington Post.

A print journalist for more than 20 years, Marcia worked for four daily newspapers in the roles of reporter, copy editor, assistant city editor and editorial page editor. She was with the Santa Barbara News-Press for nearly 10 years, and served as editorial page editor for most of that time.

She holds an MFA in creative writing and has taught for various institutions, including Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Westmont College, Brooks Institute and Santa Barbara City College Adult Education.

Marcia is a member of the Author’s Guild and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

She loves to take photographs, walk on the beach with her dog, write poetry and read good fiction.

Click here to see a list of her publications.

 


 

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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.

 

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