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By Hedgebrook Guest

In Willow Cottage at Hedgebrook

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.

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.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest


It is truly amazing how much your life can change in one year.

This March was the one year anniversary of my debut novel, The Truth About Awiti. Since its publication I have resigned from my job as a Policy Advisor for the US Department of Energy to pursue writing full-time. I have discussed The Truth About Awiti at colleges, universities, and high schools, and recently the novel was selected as a Foreward Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards’ finalist. Pinch me!   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Hedgebrook Vortext: An Uncommon Convergence

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

By Dara Marks and Deb Norton

Before Scaling the Heights of your Rewrite…

So, after weeks, months, or even years, you have finally completed your first draft. Congratulations! Crack open the champagne, throw a party, fly to Paris! However you choose to celebrate, I’m sure you deserve it. Writing is hard work; you are literally blazing a trail into the uncharted wilds of the human imagination. This is why getting to “The End” can feel like you’ve just clawed your way to the top of Mt. Everest.

Of course, this isn’t the case, and in the back of your mind you know the terrible truth—you’ve only just made it to the first base camp. But celebrate anyway because the really arduous, death-defying work of the rewrite still lies ahead and it will most assuredly leave you too pooped to party by the time you reach the summit.

To help chart the course for your rewrite, here are a few navigational tools that will help you negotiate the rugged terrain that lies ahead:   Read more

By Courtney Meaker

Walking While Fat and Female – Or, Why I Don’t Care Not All Men are Like That

I started walking between 5 and 12 miles a day about year after I moved to Seattle. The main motivator was a crippling anxiety about being late coupled with an inconsistent public transportation system (that will now become less consistent, yippee). Additionally, working in an industry with late nights (I house manage for various theaters) means that if you’re reliant on public transit, you will be waiting for an hour at a scary bus stop with Mr. and Mrs. Meth Addict at 1:30 in the morning. Walking became a way for me to take control of my commute. It was my time. Four mile walk to work. Four mile walk back. In the rain. In the dark. In the cold. Every season. Sometimes with tunes. Sometimes with “Stuff You Missed in History Class.” Sometimes talking to myself. And sometimes with silence.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Staff

Questions for our Winter Salon Teachers

Our Winter Salon teachers share what they are reading, writing and what excites them about teaching for our Winter Salon.

Anna Bálint

 What are you reading?

I always seem to have several books on the go at once. I’ve just finished “Nervous Conditions” a wonderful coming of age novel by Zimbabwe’s Tsitsi Dandarembga, and have started on “Bloodroot” by Amy Greene, another novel, this time an intergenerational family story set in Appalachia and told in multiple voices, (something I love…) I’ve also been dipping into “One World: a global anthology of short stories” which I was happy to come across and is introducing me to some fantastic writers I’ve never heard of before from various parts of the world. Lastly, but no means least I’m reading “Making Peace With the Earth” by environmental activist and feminist Vandana Shiva.   Read more

By Anne Liu Kellor

Growth, Stubbornness, and Working on a Memoir for (something like) Ten Years










Sometimes I feel ashamed when people ask if I’m still working on the same book. Yes, for almost a decade now I’ve been working on a memoir, SEARCHING FOR THE HEART RADICAL, with some periods away from it in between. Most of the chapters originated during my time in grad school from 2004-2006, although many of the seeds of those pieces had already been planted during the years I lived and wrote in China from 1999-2002. And in some respects, you might say I’ve been working on this book since the day I was born.

This book has taught me a ton—about the process of writing and about myself. I have grown so much as a writer over these years that I have felt compelled to go back and rewrite most of the pieces, again and again and again. And because it’s a book about discovering myself during my twenties—and I started writing it while still in my twenties—it’s also a book whose deeper meaning has been elusive and unfolding as I’ve grown as a person.   Read more

By Wendy C. Ortiz

It Only Takes One

After an essay I wrote appeared in the New York Times last summer (and the immediate responses to the essay which I wrote about for the Hedgebrook Blog), a flurry of activity occurred—over email, phone, and over my big dining room table where I write.

The flurry came in the form of agents. Agents who were interested in me, who wanted to see what else I was working on, who inquired about the book that would be coming from the essay.

I began seeing that essay as a seed to grow from.

Months went by, months in which I was in touch with a number of agents, agents who told me they had read my essay on the subway the day after it was published, agents who said they were interested in reading my other book—the one I started trying to push forward, since I didn’t have the book based on the essay that they were looking for yet.

I was administering a graft from another plant—the book that was already written, that a handful of agents had already said no to before—onto the seed of the published essay.

While emailing with another handful of agents, the graft took hold on the seed that was already splitting and transforming. Over the course of several months, I emailed copies of the manuscript—the graft I was trying to propagate—and finally found myself, happily, with an agent who is encouraging and sees a future with me and my work.

The shoots have been slow-growing—one piece has appeared since the NYT essay, other pieces have received encouraging rejections, and a different, shorter book has been accepted for publication by an independent press. Meanwhile, the book I grafted to the seed of that essay is currently in the hands of editors at publishing houses. When I received the list of publishers my agent was sending my book to, I almost cried. These are houses I’ve dreamed of. At the moment I write this, three have “passed” (the nicer word for ‘rejected.’) I’ve agreed to see the comments they made, and in all cases, the comments have been positive—one pass using adjectives about my writing that I want to nail to a wall near my writing space, they’re so good.

The ongoing mantra I keep repeating to get me through this waiting period has been It only takes one. It’s a mantra I repeated when my partner and I were trying to conceive: two women, one needleless syringe, and the donation from a very fine friend to complete the propagation, as it were.

Our two year old sleeps in the next room as I write this. I wait in suspense, my heart fluttering when an email lands in my inbox, when I see the name of my agent in the “From” field.

A seed took hold and I established a graft that I hope will take, and not just take, but flourish into something abundant, hardy, productive.

It’s nearly spring. And it only takes one.



Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Hollywood Notebook, forthcoming from Writ Large Press (2014). Recent work has appeared in The Coachella Review, the Modern Love column of The New York Times, Specter Magazine, and PANK. Wendy curates the Rhapsodomancy Reading Series (www.rhapsodomancy.org) in Hollywood, California. www.wendyortiz.com.



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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