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By Hedgebrook Staff

Meeting With The Mentor

Mentors come at unexpected times and in surprising places. Sometimes we seek them, and sometimes they just show up and offer exactly what we need.

My most unexpected meeting with a mentor happened by chance in a Seattle coffee shop.

The time was 2003, and the place was Victrola, a favorite Capitol Hill espresso bar, around the corner from my apartment. I’d moved to Seattle from grad school in the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, and was supporting myself with odd jobs I’d cobbled together: a couple of teaching gigs, and a part-time job in the receiving department of the City People’s Mercantile. Making ends meet.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Writer, with a Capital “W”

I applied to Hedgebrook nearly twenty years ago as a young poet with a journalism day job and a love for putting words together.

Today, dozens of proposals later, I teach artists and writers how to write kick-ass proposals. We work on writing applications that are Shiny, Persuasive, Authentic, Real, and – of course – Killer.

That spark is what makes an application leap from the pile. Sometimes it comes out naturally and easily the first time; often, it can be coaxed and elicited through a smart writing and revision strategy.   Read more

By Ellen Sussman

Knocking at Hedgebrook’s Door

Originally published June 19, 2014, this post by Ellen Sussman remains one of our most popular blog posts. We are re-posting it because we received an update from Ellen she wanted us to share with you. 

UPDATE 7/2015: When I posted this blog about my many years of Hedgebrook applications and my many rejection letters — then finally… an acceptance! — I didn’t expect the strong response from readers. One woman told me she had taken her rejection so personally that she had stopped writing for a while. Other women told me they certainly wouldn’t apply again after a few years (only a few years?!!) of rejection. Months later something wonderful happened — many of those same women emailed me to say that they took another chance. They applied again. And this time, they got in. 

And some women emailed me to say: well, I didn’t get in. Again. But I’ll keep trying. 

Here’s another chance, fearless women writers. Take a risk. Apply for a residency at Hedgebrook. Believe in yourself and your writing. It’s essential to what we do.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

You Should Apply to Hedgebrook!

“How do you tame a wild tongue, train it to be quiet, how do you bridle and saddle it? How do you make it lie down?” (Gloria Anzaldúa)

“You should apply to Hedgebrook!” is one of the most rewarding suggestions that I have heard since my arrival to the United States from Palestine in Fall 2004. The first time I heard this magical phrase was in Spring 2006, when I attended the American Ethnic Studies conference in San Francisco. I was then in the process of moving from the University of Oregon to the University of Washington to pursue my PhD in Comparative Literature.   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Three Weeks at Hedgebrook

The year was 1996. I recently finished graduate school and had started teaching in the California Poets in the Schools program.

Desperate to complete my first book, I wanted to find time and space just to write. Though I lived alone in a small cottage by a creek, I was constantly teaching, reading, commenting on the poems of my students, making ends meet. I was involved with many friendships and embroiled in family matters. It’s an old story.

I needed to find sustained, unburdened-by-demands-of-real-life time to put pen to paper. I needed space and quiet to focus. So I applied to Hedgebrook. I applied for a six-week stay. I applied during the summer, when I wouldn’t be teaching.    Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

Poetry Has Value, But Do We Value It?

We write poems because we love writing poems, not because we expect to make a living from it. I feel like that’s probably the most blatantly obvious statement I’ve written in a long time, but I had to start there because—as a writer who has recently become a public voice for the necessity of paying poets for their work—it’s too easy to think I believe otherwise. But, no, the fact is I wrote poetry long before I ever made a cent from it, and I’ll continue to write it regardless of whether payment sources arise or not.

  Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

On Community and Isolation

In New York City where I lived until last summer, some playwright friends and I figured out that the way to see each other, and get our work done, was to write together. Not collaborate, just set laptops side by side, set a timer (usually 45 minutes) and go. Take a timed chat break, then repeat as necessary.

I’ve used this method in my generative writing workshops too, offering students more structured prompts. Something changes when you work in the presence of a writer you know and admire. You risk a little more, turn towards the scene or sentence instead of away, hold your pee. It’s partly the shame – deliberately externalizing the inadequate internal pressure to sit still and stay offline. It’s a good tool when the writing is not so focused, or when time constraints seem impossible. It works long distance, too.

  Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

A Tale of Silence

I’d be willing to bet the ranch there isn’t one writer out there who hasn’t yearned for more time alone to write. Sometimes we think we have silence. It is so uncivil to notice or complain about those small sounds of another person in the house, the water running in the kitchen sink, soft music a couple of rooms away, a cough or sneeze. Even the air moves in a different way when there is someone else in your living space.

There are days that the silence holds an unbelievable amount of racket no matter how long I sit unmoving. The amount of silence I relish is something another person may find intolerable. The partner brushes fingertips across the panels of the closed door, to whisper, “You’re so quiet in there. Are you okay?”   Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

The Many Ways We Need Each Other: What Writers Mean to Writers

I caught the red-ass over a post-it note. I even took a photo of it with my phone.  It was blue, and stuck on my thirteen-year-old son’s poem he wrote for English class. The one clear sentence in his teacher’s handwriting said, “vague poetry is just not good poetry.” Heat bubbled in my belly, built up until I began to pace the house, front door to back. I watched from the kitchen as my son picked up the altered book in which his poem was written. He read the post-it note and then closed the book leaving it on the kitchen table. Half hour later, I watched him do it again.    Read more

By Hedgebrook Guest

I Wrote This

When Katie first approached me to write a piece I didn’t know what to say.

I recently moved to Los Angeles from my hometown of Seattle. Besides going on tour with fellow poet and friend Mary Lambert for two months, I haven’t lived anywhere but Seattle. But last year, after a really rough summer, I moved. Packed my car and drove to LA.

So here’s the thing.

I am in the middle of my 25th year here on Earth and I am unsure about a lot of things in my life. Like am I doing it right? And what am I actually doing? What I am going to eat? Where I am going to get next month’s rent? But in spite of all that doubt, whenever someone asks me, “What do you do?” I say, without hesitation, “I’m a writer.”   Read more

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