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By Ann Hedreen

Get Your Book in Bookstores: Publication Considerations, a Hedgebrook brown bag event that took place at Richard Hugo House on May 19, 2012

When the gift of a Hedgebrook residency changed my life in 2008, I had no idea that it was just the beginning of a long relationship. As Gloria Steinem put it so perfectly, Hedgebrook is indeed an advance, not a retreat. First, we move forward in our writing lives by spending a precious week or two or ten in a cottage, doing the work. But then, like a good mother, Hedgebrook keeps nudging us on.

Just when we’re gasping for a little encouragement, just when we’re tempted to retreat from our writing selves, a reading or a workshop or a brown-bag lunch comes along. For me, the much-needed nudge was “Get Your Book in Bookstores: Publication Considerations,” the May 19 seminar at Richard Hugo House, organized by the Hedgebrook Alumnae Leadership Council/Pacific Northwest and featuring publicity and marketing specialist Alice Acheson and alumna Nan Macy, former events coordinator at Bellingham’s Village Books.   Read more

By Elaine Elinson

The Word from the Publishers

I don’t know about you, but I am always heartened by reading rejection letters from publishers to famous authors.

I wonder how Gertrude Stein felt when she got a letter in 1912 from Arthur C. Fifield of London, spoofing her: “Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one.”  There’s a note from Alfred Knopf calling Ursula LeGuin’s prose “dry and airless, unreadable.” And stinging letters of rejection to Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, and even Isaac Bashevis Singer who went on to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.   Read more

By Kim Todd

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (to Write)

Heading into the Hedgebrook dining room, I stopped to give a poet a hug. She pulled back with raised eyebrows, having felt what hid under that chunky sweater, knit by my mother-in-law: I was five months pregnant with twins. Later, as we sat down to bowls of pumpkin ginger soup, and the warmth and vitamins flooded in, I sensed their tiny presence more clearly than I had so far. “More of this,” my body, their bodies, demanded. I took another spoonful.

As an expectant mother, you have no end of resources telling you how to gestate, What to Expect When You’re Expecting being the most famous. Advice floods in from relatives and well-meaning strangers. An embarrassed man offers you a seat on the bus, a friend buys gallons of milk in preparation for your overnight stay. The body also lets you know what it needs, a quiet companion become suddenly bossy, rebelling if you are not eating enough food or the right kind or not getting enough rest or too much.   Read more

By Nan Macy

Stepping Outside Your Genre

At Hedgebrook’s Writing Salon last Saturday, one woman who’s writing a book spoke up at lunch and said she’d been so focusing her attention and energy on tasks to complete her book that she’d sort of developed blinders (my phrase, not hers).  Her experience resonated for me as I’ve done the same in the last year.  She said that when asked in her morning workshop to do an exercise outside her genre/field/topic, she had this internal momentary response of “wait, I’m monogamous to my work.  I don’t date outside of it.”  Once she realized the limits of this closed creativity door, she could free herself to open it and walk through.   Read more

By Nassim Assefi

Connecting My Newborn Daughter to a Place that Birthed Me as a Writer

In 1980, at the age of 7, I moved to Seattle. Almost immediately, I started plotting my escape.  This had to do with my inner landscape more than my outer one, but I only saw that in retrospect. I was an awkward kid who skipped grades and started university in my early teens.  It was no surprise that I never fit in. After going to college on the East Coast, I returned to the Emerald City for medical school, but that did not improve my sense of belonging. I vowed to leave again for specialty training and did.  But during my last year of med school, something changed the way I started feeling about my home town, and that was a 2-month residency at Hedgebrook.   Read more

By Madeline Ostrander

What We Owe Adrienne Rich

The late poet was a patriot who wrestled for the soul of her country.

I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn between bitterness and hope…

I was 19 when I first read Adrienne Rich and these words from “An Atlas of the Difficult World,” which seemed to tear down the barriers between the poem and me, and let me in.

Like Rich, I grew up at a distance from true poverty: “reader reading under a summer tree in the landscape of the rural working poor,” she writes. But I knew how fractured and unstable the world around me was becoming.   Read more

By Minal Hajratwala

Our own writing time-zones

My writer friend Mary Anne posted on her blog about waking up at 4am from bad dreams and then … writing!

I am inspired at how often she does this. She wakes up with way too little sleep — crying babies, nightmares, whatever. She stresses about it for maybe a paragraph. And then? She gets right to work.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Staff

Hedgebrook Downtown

By Nan Macy, Donna Miscolta, and Allison Green

On a recent rainy Saturday, eight Hedgebrook alumnae met around the farmhouse table and shared essays they were writing about visibility and invisibility, about motorcyles, about Louisa May Alcott, about rice. Actually, this farmhouse table was not on idyllic Whidbey Island, but in a conference room at Hedgebrook’s Pioneer Square office in Seattle.   Read more

By Jen Marlowe

Kony2012, Mike Daisey and the Politics of Art, Truth and Complexity

I have a half-dozen or so of my short films on youtube and vimeo. The most “popular,” uploaded ten months ago, has been viewed 90,593 times.

The Kony2012 film, released last month, has over 84 million hits.

I spent much of the month venting in fury about the Kony2012 film/campaign and the Invisible Children organization that produced it. It oversimplified the very complex reality in Eastern and Central Africa. It offered misleading and highly sensationalized information. It proscribed militaristic policies that could potentially put thousands of civilians at severe risk. A white, male American was foregrounded as the story’s hero (along with his pre-school aged son) while the very real, very important work of reconstruction and peace-building that Ugandans themselves have been doing for years was entirely ignored. It suggested that Americans sharing videos on Facebook and purchasing bracelets was all it took to catch an indicted war criminal—and by doing so, they would also become heroes. It was self-serving and narcissistic.   Read more

By Ellen McLaughlin

What My Woodstove Has Taught Me About Writing

When you’re starting from a cold stove, lay the fire according to the principles that have lasted over the centuries, namely:

Clear the way for the new

It helps to start clean when you’re dealing with cold ashes rather than live embers. The knowledge that you’ve made fires in the past is comforting, but that doesn’t mean you have to lay new ideas on top of the cold residue of old ones. The memories of finished work, whether it was successful or not, just aren’t particularly helpful. That work is behind you, it has already served its purpose and you may be grateful to it but often the memory of that past writing keeps you from trying something new and challenging yourself, just as those dead ashes only muffle and obscure what you need to do right now, which is to start. Transcend your fear of the unknown. Let the past go. Shovel it out and clear it away before you begin.   Read more

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