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By Elizabeth Austen

On the Air: Preparing for a Radio Interview

You summoned the courage, devoted the time, wrote the book. You found a publisher. Now it’s time to get the book into the world.

For the past decade or so, I’ve worked part-time at KUOW, one of Seattle’s NPR affiliates. I interview poets and curate a regular poetry feature. I’ve been on the other side of the microphone, too, talking about my own work, and have been grateful I knew what to expect and how to prepare. Even so, being interviewed is a funny balancing act—ideally, it comes across as a relaxed, engaging conversation, but unlike a regular social situation, the interview requires preparation.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Masterclass

The car turns in at the drive. You can’t help but feel as if you’re home. It’s been a long journey, and I don’t mean your flight or the ferry. You get out of the car full of hope, your bags crammed full of expectations.

That first day’s memories are a blur: the staff, the other writers, the land, the teacher, the cottage—your cottage—unpacking, settling in. Even the memory of that first dinner that you didn’t think you could ever forget has been burned off like fog by the brightness of what came after.   Read more

By Genine Lentine

Poses: Writing as Gesture

In the weekly Sunday Writing Studio I lead at the San Francisco Zen Center, we begin with a round of generative writing modeled on the quick gesture drawings that often begin a life drawing class. Invoking the immediacy of these gesture drawings, I call these quick prompts “Poses.”

I adapted this strategy from my own practice of writing from the model in life-drawing sessions, a process I’d discovered in a drawing group I went to regularly when I first moved to New York in 2000. Sitting there trying to focus on drawing the model, I was very preoccupied with the gothically difficult triple breakup I’d just been through, and in an attempt to deal with this, I decided to write, as if I could sweep my thoughts and clear the way so I could just draw. And so I started writing, using the timed poses and the physical experience of writing on drawing paper with a pencil. I wanted to come in under the habit of deliberation and deferral and respond to what was there in the room with me.  What began as a kind of maintenance actually became a very regular process and a series of poems called Poses.   Read more

By Michelle Dicinoski

The Art of Play

A little over a year ago, I made the long journey from Brisbane, Australia, to Whidbey Island. The days before my arrival at Hedgebrook were days of excitement and uncertainty. What would Hedgebrook really be like? What would the other residents be like? And, most worrying to me, what if I didn’t write furiously the whole time I was there?

In 2008, I saw the writer Helen Garner give a keynote address at a conference on the subject of ‘Creativity and Uncertainty’. The entire speech was fascinating—to hear a famous writer talk about all the not writing involved in writing was so reassuring that you could almost hear the assembled crowd’s sighs of relief—but what I will remember most is Garner’s discussion of the importance of play. She talked about what it was like to play in the yard with her two-year-old grandson. At first, Garner is distracted, and can’t connect with the aimlessness of the play. But if she can embrace that very aimlessness, something wonderful happens:   Read more

By Minal Hajratwala

Nondualism: Writing/Not Writing

Editor’s note: The following post is being republished from Hedgebrook Writes!

 

Regret

Mid-Monday.  I feel bad that I haven’t written more, haven’t written much this weekend.

Luckily, I’m now intimate with the voices in my head. So I suspect this is a lie.  Time to take inventory. Since Friday morning, I’ve written:

• several thousand meandering journal-y words on gender, armor, rootedness, displacement, travel, destabilization & its gifts

• a draft of a film/culture commentary that I may or may not publish

• a long dialogue with a writer friend, more about gender, hair, transitions of various sorts

• a piece of flash fiction that emerged from Genine’s prompts (“poses”)

• and, oh yes, this and my previous blog post

Actually that’s quite a bit.  And this is my regular pace these days; I didn’t do much special for the Hedgebrook weekend.

I am working steadily, yet I realize (again) how constant this feeling is:  not working/writing/doing/being enough.

How good I am at saying to myself, “but that doesn’t count. That’s not real writing.”   Read more

By Tamiko Beyer

Dreaming Into Writing

Editor’s note: The following post is being republished from Hedgebrook Writes!

Hello dear writers, fellow Hedgebrook women, and dreamers. And so it begins!

I’m thinking today about what comes before writing, about what must come before writing. The dreaming, the meditating, the napping, as Minal writes in her post.

I’ve just come back from a few days in Cape Cod. It’s become a tradition for my partner and I to head to that sandy, windy landscape in the spring. Our generous friends let us stay in their guest house before the summer season starts and the paying renters come.

There’s a kind of quiet that permeates the land and the small coastal towns when we go. The deep freeze of winter is over, the sun is out and shining, but the wind still blows cold and the tourists haven’t yet arrived en masse. It feels as if we – the land and the animals and the people – are stirring in half-dreams, half-waking.

 

 

 

 

 

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By Christine Johnson-Duell

My Manifesto

As a teenager in the 1970s, amid psychedelic posters and doorway beads and a great deal of gauzy fabric, I pinned this quote to my bedroom wall:

A witch lives and laughs in every woman. She is the free part of each of us. There is no joining WITCH. If you are a woman and dare to look within yourself, you are a witch. You are a witch by being female, untamed, angry, joyous, and immortal. You are a witch by saying aloud ‘I am a witch’ and thinking about that.
From The W.I.T.C.H. Manifesto:
Women’s
International
Terrorist
Conspiracy from
Hell
New York, 1968

I loved the irreverence, daring, and humor in this provocative quote and adopted it as my personal manifesto. It felt very grown up to have it on my wall.   Read more

By Genine Lentine

The Possible’s Slow Fuse

Editor’s note: The following post is being republished from Hedgebrook Writes!

Perhaps one condition of a capacity to imagine abundant possibilities is to then feel bereft at the intractability of executing even a small percentage of them.  I sometimes have the wherewithal, within that bereavement, to entertain the theory that perhaps all those possibilities can funnel into whatever it is that I manage to do.   Still, I feel a lag and then slow things down further by thinking everything takes me way too long.

Sometimes when this happens I try to steer into the spin by exaggerating the (perceived) torpor.  If it’s taking me forever to finish an essay, well, what if I decide to work on it twice as slowly?  The first  time I tried this strategy, as is probably not a surprise, I finished the thing (in that case, an application) with startling alacrity.  I short-circuited all the labor it was taking to have the constant stream of assessment of pace and then when that energy was freed up to do the actual work, everything came together readily.

The gleam of an heroic Act
Such strange illumination

 

The Possible’s slow fuse is lit
By the imagination.
Emily Dickinson, #1687

image: p. 14 of Slug or Snail: An Assay on Velocity and Viscosity. (unpublished ms.) You can see more of this book, slowly, one page at a time here

 

By Minal Hajratwala

The Writer’s Clock

Editor’s note: The following post is being republished from Hedgebrook Writes!


Far away from Hedgebrook: the other side of the planet. Spoke with B, N, and M — there are four of us alumnae in India, that I know of! — but our idea to meet across our distances and excitements did not work out.    Read more

By Heidi Durrow

Learning From My Old Me and My Familiar Fears

Last fall I had the wonderful opportunity to return to Hedgebrook for a two-week stay and the more amazing experience of meeting up with my old me.

Let me explain.  My first stay at Hedgebrook was in 1998.  I’d left my job as a corporate litigator and was pursuing a literary career.  The residency invitation was the first time I’d received an affirmation that I was a “real” writer even though I hadn’t published a word.   Read more

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