Join us for an extraordinary weekend salon at the famed Whidbey Institute led by renowned women writers.   


Connect in diverse and powerful small-group workshops. Enjoy dynamic keynotes and discussions about opportunities and challenges for women who write. Share meals, open mics, conversation and community in a stunningly beautiful setting.


VORTEXT 2014: May 30-June 1.

See below for information on the 2014 weekend.

If you have questions or if you are planning to give this experience as a gift, please contact us by phone at 360-321-4786 or email hedgebrook@hedgebrook.org.


 Quick Links

>> Details

>> Workshops

>> Teachers

>> Daily Schedule

>> Accommodations




Location: Whidbey Institute | Whidbey Island, WA


$875 for Cedar Deep Members 

$950 General 

Teachers will include Carole DeSanti, Karen Joy Fowler, Elizabeth George, Jane Hamilton, Ruth Ozeki and Gail Tsukiyama, with a keynote by Dorothy Allison. 



Registration includes all keynotes and three workshops of your choice, group sessions and free time to write as well as breakfast, lunch, and daily reception.
* Accommodations must be arranged separately. Learn more.
* Full payment is due at the time of registration. Please call 360-321-4786 for any questions or concerns, or if you need help with your registration.


2014 Workshops

Each workshop will be offered Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. During registration, choose three workshops from these selections, one workshop for each day. In addition, each instructor will present a Keynote during the course of the weekend. Keynotes and all other activities are open to all participants.



Trust the Process

This session will explore the often-fraught relationship between creative process and bringing our work out to the public sphere. How do we bring our energy and attention to the process itself, letting go of expectations about end results? What is the relationship between control on the page, and over what happens in the world? How to weather rejection and criticism, to untangle our own judgements about our writing from that which comes from others, and turn the many challenges to creative work in a direction that serves us? Learning to trust the process unearths the buried treasure of creative work and one essential tool to understanding is the "process journal." This session will focus on techniques of our own very particular issues as writersand also help us make the transition form "writer" to "author" in this public realm. 



Your Imaginary Friends

Some writers have characters who come to life in helpful ways, tell their story, and whisper every word into the writer's ear.  This workshop is not for those characters.

This workshop is for the recalcitrant, the guarded or uninteresting or vague; the characters who are not helping at all.  Through a series of exercises, we will try to shake them loose and shape them up.  Participants should come with one of their own characters already in mind, perhaps, but not necessarily a protagonist, but definitely someone who needs a good talking to.



The Status Quo, the Primary Event, and What Then?

In The Power and Practice of Story, Christina Baldwin says that "in order to change something, we need to be able to name it, to speak about it. We cannot respond to what has yet not been brought into form through story. Story is the liberator from shadow to transformation." One of the challenges of writing a novel comes from moving away from the knowledge that there's a story out there--just beyond our grasp--and moving into the art of wrestling that story into an actual novel. We're going to be working on how to do that: going from raw idea, to status quo, to primary event, to the novel itself. We'll do it in two ways: first through a writing exercise designed to make sense of the form a novel can take and then by applying to your own work what we've learned from the exercise. 



Flab Reduction Workshop

This workshop is for those of you who would like to bring clarity and maybe some poetry, and perhaps some unflashy dazzle! to your prose.  At first in the process of writing a person has to Spit It Out, has to write with a kind of abandon without concern for what’s on the page.  And then, following that outburst, it is critical to see what is not necessary. 

Here’s Willa Cather on the subject.  She says:   

"Art, it seems to me, should simplify.  That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process;  finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole, so that all that one has suppressed and cut away is there to the reader’s consciousness as much as if it were in type on the page."

In this workshop we’ll look at some examples of poetic compression in prose, in order that first our minds can be properly blown—we’ll examine writers who have done the miracle of distilling an experience, a decade, a situation into very few lines.  We’ll do a couple of exercises that get at compression, and if you’d like you can bring in a paragraph for reduction advice. 



Re-Occupy Your Mind: Meditation & Writing

A writer’s mind is her most important tool. We rely on our minds to be quick and associative, dogged and diligent, and above all to maintain a quiet, steady focus. The mind’s enemy is skittery distraction in all its myriad forms, and in these days of email, internet, and information overload, as writers, we have to fight for our attention and focus, and our sanity. This workshop will approach writing from a contemplative perspective, offering practical tools for re-focusing the mind through meditation. We’ll use contemplative exercises designed to deepen expression and to access untapped areas of imagination and sensory experience. You’ll leave with daily writing and meditation practices to help keep your most precious tool well honed, focused and responsive.



The Lesser Angel:  Fictional Time & Place.

Does where we live define who we are?  You better believe it does!  As Eudora Welty said, "Place is one of the lesser angels that watch over the racing hand of fiction, perhaps the one that gazes benignly enough from off to one side, while others, like character, plot, symbolic meaning, and so on, are doing a good deal of wing-beating about her chair..."  Creating a strong sense of time and place provides the spiritual foundation essential to how your characters see the world.  During the workshop, we'll do some wing-beating too!  We will discuss, do writing exercises, and look at techniques on how time and place work to enrich your story, while providing a home in which your characters live and breathe.





Carole DeSanti 

Carole DeSanti is Vice President, Editor at Large at Penguin Random House, where she is known for championing independent, high-quality women's writing. Her list includes Dorothy Allison's classic novel, Bastard Out of Carolina and Melissa Bank's Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing; Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Ruth Ozeki's Booker Prize finalist, A Tale for the Time Being and the bestselling novels of Deborah Harkness, Penelope Lively and Terry McMillan. Her essays on Publishing have appeared in The New York Times, the Huffington Post and The Women's Review of Books. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, The Unruly Passions of Eugénie R., was published in 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. www.caroledesanti.net



Karen Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels, including Sarah CanarySister Noon and The Jane Austen Book Club, and several short story collections, including What I Didn’t See. Visit Karen's website here.







Elizabeth George 

Elizabeth George is the New York Times best selling author of sixteen crime novels (adapted for television by the BBC and aired on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery), as well as a book of short stories and a non-fiction book on writing. Elizabeth has been nominated for an Edgar Award for her first young adult novel set on Whidbey Island. Visit Elizabeth's website here.


Jane Hamilton

Jane Hamilton has written six novels, some of which have won awards, some of which have been made into films.  The Book of Ruth and A Map of The World were selections of the Oprah Book Club. Visit Jane's website here.








Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist-priest. She is the author of the novels My Year of Meats and All Over Creation and the maker of the film Halving the Bones. Her new novel, A Tale for the Time Being, is being published in March. Visit Ruth's website here.








Gail Tsukiyama

Gail Tsukiyama is the author of seven novels, including Women of the Silk and The Samurai's Garden. Learn more about Gail here.









Featured Keynote by Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison’s prizewinning novels include Bastard out of Carolina and Cavedweller, as well as Two or Three Things I Know for SureTrashSkin, and the book of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me. Visit Dorothy's website here. 






Daily Schedule

9:30 – 10:30 AM: Two Keynotes (30 minutes each)

Each teacher will do a 30 minute keynote over the weekend.

10:45 AM – 1 PM: Workshop Discussions

Break out into one of six workshop/discussions, each led by a teacher. Session includes writing exercises.

1 PM: Lunch

Afternoon:  free writing time

3:30 PM:  Panel discussion on a topic chosen by the community. We will have a basket out over the weekend, with slips of paper for participants to share issues they'd like the teachers to address. We'll choose 1 or 2 of these each afternoon for the panel of teachers to discuss. These will be informal, conversational sessions, and could include a Q&A at the end.

5 – 6 PM:  Open Mic and wine & cheese reception: an opportunity for participants to share some of their work. 



VORTEXT Accommodations

The Whidbey Institute at Chinook and Aldermarsh have a limited number of rooms available on a first come-first served basis. Accommodations range from en-suite rooms to dorm-like rooms with single beds to tent camping and are priced accordingly. All rooms/cabins are available for a minimum of 2 nights and up to 4 nights.

On-site reservations must be made through Hedgebrook. Please contact our Program Associate Julie O'Brien to book your accomodations: 360.321.4786.


Whidbey Institute Rooms and Rates:


The Farmhouse is a fully restored, charming, late 19th century home set amongst lush woodlands. The first floor has a relaxed and casual living room featuring a hearth and large woodstove, comfortable chairs and couches. Other features include a large country kitchen, covered porch, and an expansive outside deck. The second floor offers seven quaint bedrooms and two shared full bathrooms. Room rates vary from $80 - $140/night. (FULL)



Granny's House, another beautifully restored home, offers a full kitchen, comfortable living room and a wood-burning stove. On the first floor, there are two bedrooms and a “dorm” room that comfortably sleeps 5, all sharing a 3/4 bath. There are two bedrooms sharing a full bath on the second floor. Room rates vary from $50 - $120/night. (Only shared dorm rooms still available for $50/night.)




There are three cabins conveniently located near Madrone Meadow, all comfortably appointed. Showers, restrooms, and an outdoor kitchen are provided in a nearby, separate building.


Bagend is the largest cabin at the Whidbey Institute. This cabin offers two single beds, a small wood stove and a meditation loft. ($100/night) (FULL)

Hermitage, a quaint, small, but comfortably rustic cabin, is furnished with a double bed, bedside table, and a rocker. ($65/night) (FULL)

Heron, a small but comfortably rustic cabin, is furnished with a single bed, bedside table and a rattan chair. This cabin has a beautiful view of the meadow. ($60/night) (FULL)


Tent camping in the Madrone Meadow is also offered. Situated close to the cabins and Garbanzo (the shower, restroom and kitchen building) this site afford one or two-person tents sites. Please bring your own tent, bedding and towel. ($50/site/3 nights)


Aldermarsh Rooms and Rates:

Aldermarsh features include a spacious Cordwood Sauna and The Marsh House: an artisan gathering space for music, meditation and writing.






The Main House is a custom built, Asian-style home designed for comfort and beauty. The first floor has a large kitchen and living room with wood stove with one bedroom for $175/night (Still Available). The second floor has one en-suite bedroom ($190/night). (FULL)





The Studio, another custom built home, with a smaller kitchen, dining and living room, offers one en-suite bedroom ($185/night) on the first floor. On the upper level there is one en-suite bedroom ($190/night). (FULL)






The North House is a NW style home and situated just north of the Main House. It has 5 bedrooms (each $120/night) with a full kitchen, dining and living areas and two shared bathrooms. 






There are two, one-room, comfy, rustic cabins that offer the experience of sleeping in the woods without camping. Owl ($60/night)(FULL) and Spirit ($65/night) (FULL).These cabins use bathroom facilities in another closely located building.

Participants may choose to stay at an Inn, Bed & Breakfast or Hotel on Whidbey. The link below will take you to a list of these properties.

Download a list of off-site accommodations.


Cancellation policy: A full refund less a $50 fee with be given until April 15th; one night’s room fee will be charged if cancelled before May 16th; cancelation within 14 days of planned arrival day will forfeit the full amount.