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by Hedgebrook Staff

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead.

And it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.”

(From the play, The History Boys)


When I was in middle school, I started a tradition of reading with a blank book beside me. I would hand write excerpts from the books I read that moved me, or seemed especially juicy.

This summer, at VORTEXT, I remember being awe-struck when Jane Hamilton sat down at the same table as me to eat breakfast. I read her books voraciously growing up and marked up many pages in my blank books with her prose. One of my most prized possessions is a copy of A Short History of a Prince that she signed when she gave a visiting lecture at my college. The inscription reads:

“To Katie: never stop writing.”

So, I’m sitting at Whidbey Institute, eating French toast and bacon with Jane Hamilton. We begin talking about Luther College, where I studied theatre, and end up taking about acting. At the time, I was in a play where my scene partner kept changing the way he would perform the scene each night.

“How do you handle that?” Jane asked.

“Well, if you’re doing your job as an actor, you react to what your scene partner gives you. You have to remember and convey to the audience that it’s the first time that your character is experiencing the scene.”

At Hedgebrook, there is an ever-changing cast of characters. Each year at the retreat, we see songwriters, playwrights, novelists, poets and non-fiction writers. We host writers from every genre imaginable. Sometimes I know their books before I know them. Other times, meeting them introduces me to their work.

I held it together while meeting Jane Hamilton, Gloria Steinem and Eve Ensler. But I definitely fan-girled out when I saw Nancy Pearl walking up the steps to the Farmhouse.

“Ohmigod, it’s Nancy Pearl!” I exclaimed, immediately covering my mouth with my hand after the words had exited my lips.

These women are my heroes. I get more excited to meet them than I would to meet a movie star. They create literary universes that were in existence before I started reading and will continue to exist for years to come.

Today, when I read, it is usually on my Kindle Fire, and I’m able to highlight directly on the Kindle itself. There’s even a function that shows you the passages that other people have highlighted. My Kindle is full of books written by Hedgebrook alumnae. Whenever I turn on my Kindle, I picture Ruth Ozeki reaching through the e-book to hold my hand. Or Karen Finneyfrock. Or Jennifer D. Munroe.

Being part of Hedgebrook means being part of an incredible community. This community happens not only at the Whidbey retreat, but also at our public programs in Seattle and around the country and also online. If you are reading this blog post, you are part of the Hedgebrook community. If you like our page on cookbook, you are part of the Hedgebrook community.

I would like to take this opportunity to reach out, squeeze your hand and say, “Thank you.”




249303_772430681153_1346878254_nKatie Woodzick is a writer, actress, director, feminist and External Relations Manager for Hedgebrook. She considers herself a smattering of Rogue from X-Men, Mae West, and Tina Fey, among others. Learn more by visit her website, or find her on Twitter @TheWoodzick.


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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