Why VORTEXT is Better Than an MFA

By Hedgebrook Guest

The answer to how important a Master of Fine Arts degree is to becoming a fiction writer is, of course, not at all. The history of world literature is weighted heavily on the side of writers who put their masterpieces together without the benefit of two years of graduate school.” ~Ann Patchett, “The Getaway Car.”

For years I have agonized over whether or not I should get an MFA, but I could never bring myself to spend a ton of money or move to a new city in an attempt to earn a a real degree. On my blog, The MFA Project, I document the ways I now make up my own MFA—I am in a workshop that meets regularly, and I am constantly trying to read more widely. Since attending VORTEXT in 2015, the idea of a literary community is now a crucial part of this alternative to the MFA as well.

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Hedgebrook Vortext: An Uncommon Convergence

By Hedgebrook Guest

In this post, Hannah Lee Jones captures her experience from VORTEXT in 2015, describing the rich details she took with her and emphasizing the broad “genre, geography, life experiences, [and] thematic passions” of the workshop teachers who will return once again for a reinvigorating weekend of VORTEXT this spring.

For four years the forested lands of the Whidbey Institute at Chinook have been host in May to a conference of women writers from all over the country. The term I prefer over “conference” is convergence, and the convergence is VORTEXT, a three-day writing conference hosted by Hedgebrook which ended last weekend. And I remember each spring how lucky I am that the non-profit retreat for women writers and venue for women’s voices exists just down the road from where I live, here on gorgeous Whidbey Island.    Read more

My Hedgebrook Experience

By Hedgebrook Guest

For a few years in the 1990’s and early 2000’s I was the director of a writers’ festival in New Zealand. An annual literary event that featured well-known international writers, it enabled me to meet and mingle with some of my favorite authors; Jane Smiley, Joanne Harris, Frank McCourt, Tom Keneally, Margaret Atwood, Ruth Reichl and many more.   Read more

Ten Reasons Why Vortext is Indescribable

By Hedgebrook Guest

This was my second year attending the Vortext writing salon. I’ve attended a lot of writing workshops and conferences over the past four or five years, and this one is unique. Indescribable—everyone I spoke with agreed! But, here’s trying:

  1. Sisterhood. It’s all women so that makes it special right off the bat.
  1. Nature. There’s an almost magical quality about being at the Whidbey Institute for three days. It was like travelling back into a simpler, quieter time and being reminded of the quiet place in myself where I am the most creative.

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Experience Radical Hospitality

By Hedgebrook Guest

Gloria Steinem, who serves on our Creative Advisory Council, describes Hedgebrook this way: “It’s as if women have taken their 5,000 years of nurturing experience and turned it on each other.”

At the core of Hedgebrook’s Writers in Residence program, Master Classes and weekend writing salons is the philosophy that we have lovingly coined “radical hospitality.” This translates into comfortable lodging, delicious food and a setting that provides complete control over how she spends her time, a peaceful setting in nature, and the company of other women writers. In short: everything you need to nurture your soul and your creativity.   Read more

Will summer heat bring hope again?

By Hedgebrook Guest

I sometimes feel guilty when I wash dishes. I live and work in a rural town in a developing country in Central Asia, and there are people living near me who often struggle to feed their families. Wouldn’t it be better to always have a person who needs money wash my dishes, and I could be free to do something else such as writing? Work hours here are long: there is much need, and accomplishing tasks takes extra time. [We say: if it would take two weeks at home, it will take two months here.] I know that the efforts of my colleagues and I have real impact in the lives of our neighbors, so my work is meaningful. Sadly, writing often takes a back seat to donor deadlines, community projects, and trying to time laundry when both water and electricity are available.   Read more

Come for the Community

By Hedgebrook Guest

What’s special about the 3-day VORTEXT writing salon? Here’s some insight from workshop leaders for the upcoming 2015 session (May 29-31):

“Watching the weave of relationships created at Vortext, and the creative power generated and moved along into the world, is essential to re-charging my psychic batteries. It reminds me that the best creative work arises from collaboration and a sense of collective purpose. At last year’s open mic readings, hearing the women cheering each other on because they KNEW how hard it was to get up there was one of many truly moving moments. It reminds me how little (and how much) is needed to create a responsive environment for creative work. It’s all about intention, and Hedgebrook’s Vortext brings me back to everything I genuinely believe and value.”   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

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