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by Hedgebrook Staff

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Leah Lax is a writer and a Hedgebrook alumna. We asked her about her work and about being a Woman Authoring Change.


Tell us about your work as a writer—do you write in multiple genres/forms?

When I finally left my black-and-white Hasidic life, at forty-five, I stumbled into this amazingly diverse, multi-faceted, complex society and it seemed as if the world had just popped into three dimensions, with gorgeous jumbled hues. Which is probably why I jump genres and categories and forms, because we are what the world is. Then, in the daytime, when people are fully conscious, we give the world back its dreams.


Would you characterize your writing as activist? Why or why not?

I felt from the beginning that I can only tell my stories; I can’t have a goal of changing others. People have their own journeys, and why would I try to take that from them? But if I could focus on the writing in a place so peaceful and quiet that I could easily hear my own voice, I might manage to write a “good enough” book. And then that spark, that connection, that magic way a book can have of turning into a mirror in the readers’ hands might take over. It is my job simply to provide readers that opportunity.

I do feel surrounded by suppressed voices. As writers, don’t we all constantly hear those whispers?

Meaning, I think artists are activists by definition.


What impact do you hope your writing will have in the world?

Okay, after telling you how hard I tried not to script what course my work would find in the world, I’ll tell you my secret dream: Through those weeks in Willow and beyond, I pictured my memoir covered in brown paper and hidden under beds or tucked behind magazines in a bathroom. I pictured covered, silenced women around the world reading it alone by moonlight, or under a blanket before dawn. I wanted my book to whisper to every one of them, “What do you wish you could do? Where would you go? Who would you be?”

That began with my memoir, Uncovered. But really, I want all of my work to whisper to all kinds of people in that secret way.


What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a reader/audience member?

I read your book. We have almost nothing in common, but for those hours, I was you.


About Leah Lax:

About my work: I started with poetry, then fiction, non-fiction, memoir, a collaboration with a photographer, stage, and work with three composers. The latest: an opera by composer Lori Laitman based on my memoir, Uncovered. I just completed the libretto, which meant I had to take an 86,000 word book told in one point-of-view and reimagine it in multiple voices, “hear” music (not yet written) conveying those key wordless moments, write in instructions to a composer when I know almost nothing about composing music, and do it in 3000 words. Most fun ever.


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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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  • Rebecca Cleary
    12:38 PM - 25 August, 2016

    Such extremely important stories. I love the image of the book wrapped in brown paper and secreted away in little cubbies, fermenting awakening and personhood. Thank you, Leah, for sharing your important journey.

  • Laurie Buchanan
    1:39 PM - 25 August, 2016

    Leah — I love the BEST feedback you ever received from a reader: “We have almost nothing in common, but for those hours, I was you.”

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