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By Anne Liu Kellor

How to Write After Giving Birth

You fear that once you have your baby it will be hard to write. You have been spoiled for so long with so many uninterrupted hours. How will you adapt to working in snippets, a half hour here, hour there? You know that this is how other mothers do it, how they manage to hang on to their identities as writers, manage to get anything done. That said, you are prepared to give up writing altogether for a while. You are trying to lower your expectations so that you will not be disappointed. You are trying to be realistic.

Before giving birth, you are gifted with three blessed weeks at Hedgebrook. You know that this is your last chance to make great strides in your work before life with baby takes over. You know that life with baby will take over.   Read more

By Yvette Heyliger

An Open Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama

Dear Farmhouse Table:  I am a Hedgebrook alumnae (Oak 2008) and member of the Dramatists Guild.  I attended a meeting earlier this year with the president, Stephen Schwartz, distinguished council members, and members of the Women’s Initiative to discuss parity issues.  In that meeting I shared that there was a letter that I have been writing for some time now to Michelle Obama about the plight of women playwrights in America.  I decided to make it an “open letter” and share it with “all who have ears to hear.”  Many have found it inspiring, and so I thought I would share it with the Hedgebrook community here at the Farmhouse Table.  Enjoy!

– Yvette Heyliger (yvetteheyliger@aol.com)

An Open Letter to Michelle Obama discusses a precedent set by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, one that paved the way for women journalists, ensuring and protecting their jobs as members of the White House Press Corps.  I thought her methods might inspire the same action by First Lady Michelle Obama as a way to achieve parity for women artists in the American Theatre.   Read more

By Ann Hedreen

Time and Katy

 

This one’s about Time. And Katy.

Katy: you wrote so eloquently about your cancer I thought your words would banish those cells from your body forever. But no. A few cells lurked.  Multiplied. Finally, they left your words and took your body. And I am grieving. Me and a whole lot of other people.

I knew you first as a writer, a fiftyish mom like me who left the teenagers at home while we honed our craft in an MFA program.  Then when I read what you wrote, I knew you as a writer who had faced down death at an age when most of us are debating whether to stop coloring our hair.

A few nights ago I went to a phenomenal reading sponsored by Hedgebrook.      Read more

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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

  Read more

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

 

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